When people pass through one of the food pantries she volunteers with, Sally Hinton says she often hears someone say, “Well, I can feed myself for a while now, but I don’t know about my animals.”
So, she decided to start a food pantry for dogs and cats. She operates it in conjunction with the Mobile Food Pantry at the Greater Life Assembly Church at 12145 North Shore Drive in the Rocky Fork Lake area. She has two women she calls her “angels ladies” that help her.
She started the ministry in May of 2016 and tries to offer the pet food pantry four times a year.
“I don’t know if the community knows how much it’s needed,” said Hinton, who owns and operates Holiday Cottages in the lake area. “People go through the food pantry line and say, ‘Now I can afford my medicine this month.’ That’s how much it’s needed. And there’s never not a thank you or a God bless you.”
The next dog and cat food pantry will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at the church. Hinton said she’s planning another one in December shortly before Christmas, but the date and time will be announced later.
The regular food pantry is offered in the church kitchen, while the pet food pantry is offered in the church sanctuary.
“We’re proud of what we’ve done so far, but we need community support because this is really needed,” said Hinton, adding that she also volunteers with Community Action, Samaritan Outreach Services and Catholic Charities. “As an animal lover – I used to volunteer with the dog pound – I know there’s a need. When I started doing it, people said they never thought anyone would do this for animals.
“It’s for the love of the animals, dogs and cats, is why I do it. For some people, their pets are their life. That’s why they get up in the morning.”
Hinton said she tries to have enough food for 200 dogs and 150 cats whenever she holds one of the pet pantries. But she said that since the Mobile Food Pantry has recently expanded the area it serves, the need will likely increase. She said that if she has food left over it goes to Highland County Community Action, which passes it on to other animal owners.
The Mobile Food Pantry and the pet food pantry serve residents of the Rocky Fork Lake area, Paint and Marshall townships, and Sinking Spring and Carmel. Identification and proof of residence is required.
The Mobile Food Pantry is offered the third Thursday of each month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church. But the pet pantry is offered just four times a year. Hinton said the pet food pantry is needed more in the winter because people have heat bills to pay that they don’t have in warmer months.
Hinton said she buys most of the food, although she receives some financial help from her “angel ladies.” She said she’d like to see the animal food pantry grow, but that it would take help from the community. Anyone that would like to donate food or money can reach Hinton at 937-365-1331. She said she would also accept donations of cat litter or puppy pads.
“Dogs and cats are in my heart forever and ever and ever,” Hinton said. “I was never allowed to have them when I was young, so maybe that’s why my four dogs are my kids.”
It is rewarding, Hinton said, to help people who otherwise might not be able to feed their pets. She said it’s humbling, too.
“This is from my heart, and that’s what I do it for,” Hinton said. “And it makes you happy to help someone out. I get nothing out of it, other than what it does for my heart.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]