Terri Davis had to do something. Elderly, home-bound Florida residents could not afford to feed their hungry cats and dogs, so they fed the pets their much-needed home-delivered meals. “I thought,” says Davis, of Green Cove Springs, Fla., “that it was so sad.”
This 44-year-old mother of three, all in a 4-H group called the Ham Jammers, helped create the idea of the Jammers delivering pet food to the seniors, who receive meals from the Clay County Council on Aging.
Davis wrote letters to about eight different pet food makers for donations, and only Halo came through, with a donation of 20,220 cans of Spot’s Stew worth about $64,000 and expected to last a year. “Halo wanted to give these seniors the comfort that their pets would have good food,” says David Yaskulka, Halo’s vice president who made the offer. “Then these seniors could end their extraordinary sacrifice.”
Sheryl Hartzog, the transportation coordinator for the Council on Aging, was “ecstatic” when she learned of Halo’s decision, which came just before Christmas. Says Hartzog: “I wrote back to him and said, ‘There IS a Santa Clause.”
On the first delivery, Katie Hartzog, Sheryl’s 17-year-old daughter and a Ham Jammer, met two Yorkies and their human mom, who has cancer. “She was just happy,” says Katie. “She told us that she was glad we thought of her and we brought food for her dogs so she didn’t have to give them her food.”
In all, 57 seniors will receive Spot’s Stew for their cats and dogs. The 4-H Jammers — as well as some students from Clay High School — not only deliver the food but make sure the pets are well taken care of. Says Hartzog: “Now you know both are getting a nutritious meal.”
Davis hopes that other 4-H participants start programs such as these in their own communities. “We’re hoping this will sort of spread everywhere,” says Davis.”It’s so important for children to learn compassion for the elderly.”
Already, one of the volunteers — a high school junior who wants to be a vet — is creating a scrapbook that includes thank you’s. As the woman with cancer wrote on behalf of her Yorkies: “Thank you for bringing us this nutritious, delicious food. Thank everyone who is involved in the pet food program. From Flossy and Abby.”