Our national pandemic has brought many bumps in the road: Unpaid bills, lack of food, and perhaps more importantly to many people, lack of pet food. Little did I and others know, that buying one bag of pet food at a time, for complete strangers, would assist hundreds, even thousands of pet owners all over the country. Such a “small” gesture made a huge difference in the pet owner’s life, and not unsurprisingly in my own life too.
But how did this come about? It all started in March of this year when a grassroots organization, called Intellihelp, was founded by Austin businessman, Ron Lynch, and some of his friends. The method in their madness was to set up a mechanism where people could quickly and directly provide emergency assistance to others who lost income because of COVID-19. There is no middle man: Assistance is sent directly to the requester.
They decided to use Facebook as the platform where “askers” could post their needs and “angels” could buy the items they needed. The askers would post a wish list via Amazon, WalMart or other vendors and the angels would choose the item (s) to buy which would be directly sent to the asker.
The pleas for pet food came from all over the United States. “Running short on food…please help….my dogs are my world. Thanks.” said one requester. “I’m living in my truck with my Fur babies and I’m in need of some help with for them,” says another. Another poster mentioned going without food, so his dog could eat, and many others admitted they were feeding pets table scraps. Another requesting help, had only $10 to her name.
But what is really remarkable is the number of people who could barely keep food on the table for themselves, yet took in starving, abandoned pets. One woman was walking in a field and found a starving and parched pup and brought her home asking for help with pet food. A pregnant woman who was barely making ends meet rescued two abandoned pups from her apartment dumpster. A single mom of three, who was in remission from leukemia and on disability, wanted help for two sick kittens her daughter rescued. The kittens meant so much to her children that she knew she had to make every effort to keep them. Another rescued a starving kitten from a ditch despite four pets at home.
And one woman rescued four severely starved horses. They were so skinny that their ribs stuck out. After the vet bills she had no money left to feed them. She posted an SOS for less than $100 worth of hay and grain to feed them. But several angels rallied around and gave her more than the initial request so she had food to last longer.
There is no mistaking the pet owners’ gratitude. One requester said she had totally given up hope on anything positive happening in her life, until an angel fulfilled her request for pet food.
Said another, “I want to say thank you…for being my Angel for my animals. I couldn’t ever thank you enough for what you got…after a long day expecting only 1 of what I ordered and you got me 2 of everything…tears in my eyes. ”
For me, this experience has been both heartbreaking, yet heartwarming. I am delighted to be able to help during these unbelievably tough times, but so sad that so many people are in such desperate straits. As of now, July 2020, donors have contributed over $200,000 in the last five months which has helped over 2,000 households.
The British author, J.R.R. Tolkien had these wise words to say about tough times: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But…all we have to decide is what to do with time that is given us.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring) Deciding to buy pet food for complete strangers, turned out to be a precious way to spend my time.
If you want to help pet owners via this mechanism, here is the FB link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/intellihelppets/