The number of items donated to Christmas for Critters in 2018:
48 cans of dog food
49 rolls of paper towels
Eight boxes of dryer sheets
14 cleaning sponges
18 bottles of Dawn
Nine bottles of kitten milk
Nine gallons of bleach
12 boxes of dog treats
125 pounds of cat litter
78 cans of cat food
124 dog and cat toys
178 pounds of cat food
427 pounds of dog food
14 bottles of dog shampoo
20+ dog outfits
60+ towels and linens
Various items such as dog diapers, bowls, cleaning products, flea and tick medication, trash bags, deodorizer and gloves
Dawson County High School senior Shannon Porter has a tradition of bringing holiday joy to local animals at the Dawson County Humane Society.
On Jan. 25, Porter stopped by the humane society with a truckload of food, supplies and toys that were donated to her charity, Christmas for Critters.
Every year since 2012, Porter and her family begin the holiday season by collecting donations for the charity she began when she was 11 years old.
“Animals have always been the center of my heart so I started this,” Porter said. “I love it. It’s just become part of the holiday season for us.”
Each December, Porter and her mother, Cindy Lord, go around Dawson County placing donation boxes at local businesses and spend their Sunday afternoons in front of Kroger encouraging people to donate to their cause.
“We’ve met so many nice people and it’s just amazing that people will stop and give you their time and give you either cash or buy something and throw it in the box on their way out from Kroger,” Lord said.
Day after day the boxes would fill up and Porter would store the donations in her family garage, excitedly watching the pile of donated items continue to rise.
Every year, that large pile of food bags, treats, toys and other supplies makes it challenging to maneuver through the garage, but Porter says it’s a labor of love.
“It’s been a part of our life for the past six years so we’re all used to it,” Lord said, laughing.
After collecting donations through December and January, Porter sorted and catalogued the items before dropping them off at the humane society.
This year, Christmas for Critters raised $834 for the humane society along with 427 pounds of dog food, 178 pounds of cat food, 125 pounds of cat litter and numerous treats, toys, beds and cleaning supplies that will go to good use.
“It’s indescribable just how rewarding the feeling is to give to these animals,” Porter said. “You know, they can’t speak up for themselves and they don’t really have somebody, they don’t have a home. Even though this is their home, they don’t have a ‘home’ home so to be able to give them something that makes it feel a little bit more like home is so rewarding.”
Porter has been spending as much time as she can visiting the humane society and helping in any way that she could since she was 8 years old.
“I was taking my Christmas money and going to Walmart and buying stuff to bring to the humane society and I would be selling pencils in my neighborhood to raise money for their surgical center,” Porter recalled.
She said the relationship that she has with her pets at home continues to be her motivation to help the homeless animals of Dawson County.
“Seeing how lucky that they are, how blessed they are to be at home and then seeing all these animals here, you know, I want to give them that feeling,” Porter said.
As Porter finishes her senior year and prepares to enter college next year, the fate of Christmas for Critters is unknown. Lord believes if her daughter attends the University of North Georgia and stays close to home, the tradition will continue.
Porter, however, hopes to attend nursing school at Georgia College in Milledgeville.
“I think maybe next year I’m going to come back and try it out and see if it’s something that I can do when I’m out for the school year,” Porter said.
Whether Christmas for Critters will be continued or not, Porter said there are always ways to give back to the humane society throughout the year.
“We appreciate everyone that helps us out, but there is always needs here at the shelter,” Porter said. “Call them and check in. Adopt (animals). Get your animals spayed and neutered. Come spend some time with the people here.”