It's not just human family members who can go hungry, when times get tough.
That's why Kim O’Konis founded a food bank for her area's pets, about a year ago, with the goal of helping struggling families in Massachusetts "get much needed and costly food for their beloved dogs and cats."
The Central MA Kibble Kitchen is an all-volunteer operation that distributes some 4,000 pounds of pet food every week, to about 200 pets. O'Konis estimates 70,000 pounds of pet food have been given out altogether, since the nonprofit got off the ground in January 2015.
The aim isn't just to feed these animals, but to help families -- including the furry members -- stay together, and to keep pets from going into shelters, because of financial hardship.
"The main mission of the Central MA Kibble Kitchen is keeping pets with their families so they don’t have to consider relinquishing them to shelters," O'Konis told The Huffington Post.
O'Konis says her clients run the gamut. Some are homeless or in tough financial straights because they're getting divorced or are escaping domestic violence. There are folks who are unemployed and finding it hard to get new sources of income.
The circumstances vary, but what's shared is a love for their pets and a commitment to doing right by their animals.
One client, whom O'Konis calls Jane, lost her home due to exorbitant medical expenses, and was worried she was going to lose her dog and chief source of comfort, a Boston terrier named Chiquita, as well.
But now, thanks to the Central MA Kibble Kitchen, Chiquita is fed as well as spayed, vaccinated and microchipped.
Most importantly, she and Jane are still together.
"I personally have had people collapse into my arms in tears to find that they could keep their companions and weren’t forced to face make other arrangements," O'Konis said. "To see the relief on a parent's face, when they don't have to consider giving up a beloved family pet, is beyond words."
Here's Central MA Kibble Kitchen's distribution schedule, if you're in the area and need some help.
The group relies on donations and volunteers. Find out more on the Central MA Kibble Kitchen website.
And get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an animal story to share!
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