By April Tisher | Photos Courtesy of The Alachua County Humane Society
As parents, we are often looking for ways to be involved and give back to the community alongside our families. There is a short list of volunteer opportunities that allow adults and children to work side by side, but the Alachua County Humane Society can provide a one-stop shop to do just that! Whether you are offering your time, money or items for donation, anyone at any age can show their support for local animals in need. Our local Humane Society is a nonprofit organization that has been helping animals for over 40 years.
If it is time you’ve got on your hands, the Alachua County Humane Society would love to have you! Sarah MacLennan, the volunteer program manager for ACHS, said that they encourage families to come in to bond together through volunteering with the animals. In fact, they have over 750 active volunteers! There is no minimum age to volunteer, although an adult must accompany anyone under the age of 16. “Even the littlest of children can come in and work with the cats, learning to be good pet stewards,” said MacLennan.
It is easy to get started. You begin with an online sign-up process and take a short training class for the area you are most interested in, such as dogs or cats. The ACHS is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. so working parents and students can still make it in. You can even schedule your own volunteer times via their online system. Local mom Mary Law said she and her 13-year-old son, Robert, volunteered together for doggie playtime. “I was impressed with their operation and the ease of getting started,” said Law. “It was a fun thing for mother and son to do together.”
If working directly with animals isn’t something you think you or your family would be comfortable with, there are still many other ways to support the ACHS. Chris Lucas, the ACHS Thrift Shop Manager, said they always need volunteers to help process and sort donations, stock shelves, and provide customer service by unloading donations and assisting shoppers. “If you love animals, but have a hard time being in the shelter, this is good place to help out while still supporting the animals,” said Lucas.
If you just don’t have the time, but would still like to help, there are other options for your family. Their thrift shop can always use donations of all kinds, such as housewares, clothing, furniture, toys (including stuffed animals) and linens. They even use old pillows and bedding for the animals’ cages!
For more information or to get started volunteering please visit Alachuahumane.org
Items that the shelter always needs:
• Dawn dish soap (to get rid of fleas!)
• Paper towels
• Pet food/treats (You can bring open bags of dog and cat food that your pet didn’t/couldn’t/ wouldn’t finish. They run a pet food bank for those who need financial assistance in feeding their pets and give samples to those animals being adopted.)
• Cat litter