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Animal Food Pantry begins sixth season, seeks donations

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MASSENA - A local organization has begun another year of feeding animals owned by the elderly and disabled in the community.

The Animal Food Pantry is now in its sixth year, according to founder Sandra L. Donaldson, who said their first distribution held this week drew a large crowd.

“The first one of the season was Wednesday. We were mobbed. They were lined up outside the door at 12:30, and we didn’t open until 1,” she said.

That’s a far cry from the day their doors first opened, Ms. Donaldson said.

“When we started it was very slow. We had very few clients. It has grown in the six years. I think as of yesterday we had 95 clients,” she said.

That’s up from the 68 clients she served last year, who owned more than 96 dogs or puppies and/or 84 cats and kittens.

Distribution is held once a month from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday through March at the Massena Community Center, Beach Street. Supplementary food is distributed once a month to those who qualify, according to Ms. Donaldson.

“We only do it from November through March. It’s usually the first Wednesday of the month,” she said.

“There are some confusion as to who is eligible,” she added. “We started out with just senior citizens 55 or older. Then decided to also offer it to disabled persons. I’ve talked to people in the food pantry. The older people are too proud. Our main objective is to help those people. Their Social Security checks are small.”

Anyone who is already a client does not need to reapply for the service. Those who are applying for the first time need proof of age to show they’re 55 or older proof of their disability to qualify.

Ms. Donaldson said that, as the need in the community grows, so does the need at the Animal Food Pantry, and they’re always accepting donations of food or money.

“Like other charitable organizations in our community, we are struggling to keep going,” she said. “Basically it’s food. We try if possible and if it’s not overly expensive to give them the food that their pet has been accustomed to. So often if you try to change a pet’s food it makes them ill.”

She said they will also ask on occasion for cat litter.

“But as far as toys and those kinds of things are concerned, not so much. We do get those. Tractor Supply will sometimes send over a bunch (of toys) and treats, that type of thing. At Christmas time we try to make sure every pet owner gets treats,” Ms. Donaldson said.

Donations can be sent to AFP, 173 McKinley Ave., Massena, N.Y. 13662, Attn: Sandra Donaldson. Food donations can be dropped off at the Community Center or call 769-2806 for pick-up.

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