Fifteen-year-old Shannon Porter has spent the last four holiday seasons making sure that all of the furry friends in Dawson County have a good Christmas.
"I've always had a place in my heart for homeless animals, and it pulls at my heartstrings to think about animals out there not having a Christmas," Porter said.
In 2012, Porter founded Christmas for Critters, a charity that collects monetary as well as food and supply donations for dogs, cats and other animals and donates them to the Dawson County Humane Society.
To date, Porter has raised several thousand dollars and several thousand pounds of pet food, flea and tick medication, cleaning supplies, scrubs for humane society workers, dog beds and more.
To do this she installs drop boxes at local businesses who agree to sponsor her. Citizens can take their contributions to the boxes, where they are collected and donated to the humane society.
So far, the drop off locations this year include Ingles, AML Computer Services, Dawsonville Veterinary Hospital, Dawsonville Distinctive Dentistry, All Animals Vet, Chocolate Moose, Friends Sports Grill, Fitness 1440, Kinetix Health Club, City Liquor, Kroger, Premium Package, Bank of the Ozarks, the Chevron located by McDonald's and Annis Chiropractic.
The drop boxes go out around Thanksgiving and are collected by Porter and her mother Cindy Lord around New Years.
Porter and Lord foot any expenses they incur in creating the boxes, delivering them to locations and picking up the donations. They do home pickups, and if beds, cages or other items are received dirty, they clean them themselves.
"100 percent of the donations go to the Humane Society," Lord said. "We don't get any of it."
New this year, the charity has partnered with Tractor Supply, and Porter and Lord stood outside the store on Black Friday, receiving more donations than they could have ever anticipated.
"We had a big donation of a couple hundred dog bones," Porter said.
Also this year, Christmas for Critters helped find homes for three dogs through their presence in the community.
Porter said her goal for this year is to raise $3,000 and double the food goals from the previous year.
"Each year we've doubled our money donations and other donations, so that's what we're hoping for this year," Porter said.
According to Lord and Porter, the charity is still soliciting businesses to serve as sponsors and host drop box locations, and ask anyone who is interested to contact them.
"While we've had a lot of awareness in the community and people have called us looking for our boxes, we're always on the lookout for more sponsors and more awareness for our cause," Porter said.
For more information, visit www.christmasforcritters.com or the charity facebook page at ChristmasforCrittersOfficial.
Wish List for Christmas for Critters - Drop-Box Needs
Covered Litter Boxes
Dawn Dishwashing Liquid-Blue
Kitten Milk-Dry to be mixed
Purina Kitten Chow
Dog and Cat Shampoo Puppy Food
Latex medical gloves - small and medium
Construction garbage bags
Powdered laundry detergent
Small, Medium, and Large Cat Beds
Dog and Cat Toys