Heritage Humane Society Honors Pets with ‘Fur Tree’ Fundraiser

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The Fur Tree will be on display in front of Mermaid Books for the entire month of December. (Courtesy Heritage Humane Society)
The Fur Tree will be on display in front of Mermaid Books for the entire month of December. (Courtesy Heritage Humane Society)

The Heritage Humane Society’s annual “Fur Tree” fundraiser kicked off last Friday and has already garnered more than $5,000 for the shelter.

The tree, which has been a Williamsburg area tradition since 2000, went up in front of Mermaid Books in downtown Williamsburg on Saturday. Though in previous years it has been taken down the day after Christmas, event planners decided to leave it up through New Year’s Day this year.

Families and individuals can buy bows to place on the tree emblazoned with the name or names of beloved pets, the money from which goes into the general fund at the shelter.

Though many families choose to purchase a bow to honor a pet that has passed away, some submit the names of current pets, animals at the shelter or even human animal-lovers in their lives. Bows can fit up to three names on them.

The top bow on the tree is unmarked, but it is meant to honor all of the animals that have been surrendered to the shelter in the course of the past year.

While the bows are priced at $10 for small and $25 for a large, the fundraiser is able to bring in a significant profit because all of the materials that make it possible are donated.

Homestead Garden Center provides the tree and Williamsburg Floral supplies the ribbon for the bows, which are assembled and delivered to the site by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Thanks to these charitable donations, the shelter is able to maximize the reach of the proceeds from the fundraiser.

“All of [the money raised] goes right back to the pets,” said Kimberly Laska, executive director for Heritage Humane Society.

This year the fundraiser has brought in $5,385 , already coming close to matching last year’s total of $6,460 with more than three weeks left to sell bows. So far, 196 individual bows have been purchased and placed on the tree, with more added every few days.

“[This fundraiser has] become such an icon in the community,” Laska said. “People love it because they get to see their pets names on the tree themselves. They’ll search the whole tree just to find their bow.”

Money from the sale of the bows goes toward purchasing shelter necessities like lights and equipment as well as food and medical care for the animals. This and other fundraising initiatives are vital to keeping the shelter’s doors open.

“With most public shelters, they’re underwritten by the taxpayers, but we don’t have that here,” Laska said.

Bows for the Fur Tree will be available for sale at another upcoming Humane Society fundraiser – the Holiday Bazaar. This annual event, taking place this year at Bruton Parish Hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 12, is the biggest fundraiser for the shelter each year and features handmade crafts made by shelter volunteers available for sale.

Interested parties can also purchase bows throughout the month at Mermaid Books or on the Humane Society’s website.