Donations are the most common way we contribute to a cause we believe in, and they do an unparalleled amount of good. In a world where time is our most precious commodity, donations are an easy and convenient way to help. The money goes where it’s needed, and from start to finish the process may only take a few minutes.
But it can be easy to forget that donations aren’t the only way you can help out. Not all of us are in a position to make a monetary donation (cough, cough … college), and others prefer to take a more active approach to helping out.
Believe it or not, there are many different ways you can contribute. From reading to animals in the shelter (see also here), to dropping off the dish towels that say tis the season on them that you got for christmas last year, but never used at a local rescue, the possibilities are limitless.
Below you’ll find find five ideas to get you started!
1. Make toys, homes, or beds for shelter/rescue animals.
I know homemade or craft-type items usually aren’t something you’d donate, however, the stigma that goes along with donating homemade items in the “human” world has no place in the land of shelters and rescues! They are more than happy to accept these items, and often cherish them more than their store-bought counterparts.
What kind of things should you make, you ask? Well, the most common, and probably easiest, things to make are toys. Both cats and dogs love toys, and demolish them almost as fast as they get them. Which is why rescues and shelters can never get enough! And making dog or cat toys can actually be super simple and a lot of fun. Often times you already have the items you need at home.
Have any leftover plastic easter eggs from easter? Put a few beads inside, maybe hot glue on a feather for a tail, and voila: cat toy!
Dogs and cats aren’t the only ones that can use your homemade items! There are many guinea pig, rabbit, and other small mammal rescues out there that could use some help. Many of these animals prefer sleeping in actual homes or hides. And while homes and hides can be expensive to buy at a store, making them at home is quite affordable.
Handy with a sewing machine? All you need is a little bit of fabric and a whole lotta love. Simple pillow cushions or beds are also always in demand. Small ones for guinea pigs, all the way up to big ones for dogs. A soft bed goes a long way to helping animals feel comfortable.
2. Go through your pantry and cabinets for extra items.
Sounds easy enough right? Well it is! And the list of supplies shelters and rescues desperately need will probably surprise you. It’s a whole lot more than just pet food.
We all know it takes a lot to keep shelters and rescues running. But it’s not just the animals that need items. The facilities and cages need upkeep as well. And that means cleaning supplies, which aren’t always cheap.
Take a look through your pantry and cabinets, check under the sink, you’ll be surprised at what you might find. A long forgotten bottle of dish soap that wasn’t quite your scent? Yep, they need that. How about an old box of garbage bags that no longer fit your can? Yep, they need those too.
Take a look at some of the items shelters and rescues commonly need, and see if you might have a few lying about you wouldn’t mind donating:
Towels and blankets
Bleach, laundry and dish soap
Trash bags: 45 gallon or larger
AA, AAA and D batteries
Towels of all sizes
You can find a complete list here, or contact your local shelter or rescue to find out what they need.
3. Change what you buy.
Changing what we buy is an essential part to the long term plan of actually saving our planet, our resources, and our animals. By purchasing certain products, we often inadvertently support behaviors and acts, that if we were aware they were going on, we would definitely not stand for.
These atrocities take on such forms as violently sheared sheep, whose wool makes the clothing we wear; to the deforestation of the rainforest for palm oil, destroying the ecosystems and habitats of countless species; to commercial long-lines and gill nets, which slowly and painfully kill, not only the fish they are meant to catch, but thousands of other marine animals.
These are a few of the many issues, and they only gets worse. The supply-chain/origination-points of the products we use and the food we consume can be near impossible to determine, as there is very little focus on transparency. But that has slowly started to change. Packaging and labels on many products now include tags or disclaimers letting you know that the items were responsibly sourced or humanely raised/harvested.
By changing our buying habits to only purchase products we know come from sustainable and humane sources we can slowly change the entire market. While this process will take years, if not generations, we must start now if we are to have any chance at all for a future.
Here are a few links that will help you know what to look for:
As mentioned earlier, time is incredibly valuable, and we seem to have less and less of it nowadays. But spending time can make an incredible impact in the lives of animals.
Shelters. Rescues. These places only exist because people committed their time to make them a reality. They continue to flourish because of employees and volunteers who continue to give their time.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. An hour a week, even an hour a month. Anything and everything helps. You could help with the adoption paperwork and interviews. You could help clean the facility, or mow the lawn. You could walk the dogs, or scratch the cats. You could help give them baths. You could read to them, or maybe even sing? (Bad singers beware, the dogs may decide to howl along with you).
But it’s not just dog walking and litter box cleaning that they need you for (though both of those are equally as important). There are actually a variety of tasks you can help with.
Consider yourself a Handy Manny or Mandy? Many rescues and shelters need help with facilities or enclosure repairs.
Are you an accounting wiz who loves numbers almost as much as you love animals? Rescues and shelters both desperately need your skills. Get your furry-friend-fix while helping balance the books.
5. Sign a petition.
Want to do something to help, but literally have like no time at all? Well, there’s still something you can do! Sign a petition. Not even kidding. All it takes is your name, address, a few clicks of your mouse, and bam! You just helped.
And yes, your one signature really will make a difference. One voice can have a hard time getting those in office to listen, ten thousand, however, can easily grab and hold their attention.
You can find these petitions on a few fantastic sites that host them. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of petitions you can find, each supporting a different cause. The good news, you can sign all of them!