Thursday, February 29, 2024

Furry Friends Feature: Get Paws-on with The Heritage Humane Society Auxiliary

For those whose idea of giving back is rewarded with puppy kisses, the peace of mind that a scared, stray mother cat and her kittens had a safe place to stay or learning a neglected, emaciated dog began building trust in caring humans, then The Heritage Humane Society Auxiliary (HHS Auxiliary) might just be the place to share their time and talents.

The HHS Auxiliary, is a dynamic community advocacy and fundraising group contributing to Greater Williamsburg’s largest animal shelter. Founded in 1995, the HHS Auxiliary is a significant supporter of the mission of The Heritage Humane Society in caring for and placing homeless and at-risk companion animals. With a strong team of 67 dedicated volunteers, the HHS Auxiliary is actively engaged in some of the community’s most treasured initiatives and events.

From Critter Canisters to championship golf

HHS Auxiliary have many opportunities to align their skills and interests with the full roster of initiatives and events. From tending to change canisters collecting donations at local merchants, sourcing items for auctions, contributing their sewing skills and putting together themed gift baskets to inscribing Valentine’s hearts, trimming the Holiday Fur Tree, and helping to put on the area’s buzziest charity golf event of the year, the HHS Auxiliary is a multifaceted organization.

Current HHS Auxiliary President Deborah Jane Wells, expresses her dedication to the highly active nonprofit. The group is a subset within the shelter’s more than 600 members. “Through advocacy and awareness activities, HHS Auxiliary members help support The Heritage Humane Society in realizing its mission as a treasured animal welfare resource serving all who live in our community” shares Wells. “We commit our time, talents, creativity and energy to raising funds that provide critical support. I’m honored to help lead the auxiliary’s dedicated volunteer team in generating substantial funding by creating, organizing and conducting multiple fundraising events throughout each year.”

In 2023 alone, the HHSA raised an impressive $193,321, showcasing the community’s generosity and the effectiveness of the Auxiliary’s efforts.

Bill Christensen, a past President of the Auxiliary, shared his and his wife Lynne’s lifelong passion for companion animals and their involvement with The Heritage Humane Society since its earliest days when there were just a few members. Christensen emphasized the rewards of working with other Auxiliary members and the community’s positive response to their efforts, which include organizing events like Bark in the Park, Puttin’ on the Dog Fashion Show, Make Par for Pets, Fur Tree, and the year-round coin collection program involving more than 100 local merchants. “Throughout all, the greatest rewards for us continue to be the comradery of working with other Auxiliary members and the community’s overwhelming response to our efforts.”

A full calendar of year-round caring

The HHS Auxiliary has a variety  of upcoming events for 2024, including the ongoing Hearts for Homeless Pets campaign taking place now, the Spring in Bloom Online Auction from April 29 to May 8, the Make Par for Pets Golf Classic on Sept. 13, the Holiday Fur Tree from Nov. 29 to New Year’s Day, and the Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 23.

The HHS Auxiliary also engages in year-round fundraising initiatives. Its Critter Canisters program is supported by 100 local merchants and raised more than $12,400 in 2023. A booth at the Williamsburg Antique Mall is supported by volunteers selling merchandise where proceeds contribute to the group’s fundraising mission. The shelter’s Precious Pieces guild provides every newly adopted pet with a handmade blanket.

“My first introduction to HHS was as a volunteer dog walker in 2007. A few years later I also joined the HHS Auxiliary as it was a different way to help support the animals,” shares HHS Auxiliary Member Carol Jakobovits. Over the years she’s seen the HHS Auxiliary evolve into an extremely creative and successful organization raising significant funds for the shelter. Many people in the community know of the group’s signature events such as the Holiday Bazaar and Make Par for Pets Golf Classic.  In recent years they’ve   added new events such as Spring Bloom and Hearts for Homeless Pets.  “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the friendships that I’ve made in working on different Auxiliary events.  And there is a bonus in working with other animal friendly people—there is always someone willing to hear about the latest antics of your pet!”

Joining made easy

The Auxiliary welcomes visitors to attend their monthly meetings in the HHS classroom to learn more about what they do. Meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. Those interested in joining can complete the online membership application.

“The HHS Auxiliary continues to be a beacon of hope for animals in need, fostering a community of compassion and support in Greater Williamsburg and beyond, and we are grateful every day for their time, talent and giving,” shares Kimberly Laska, Executive Director The Heritage Humane Society.

Adoptable pets benefiting from the HHS Auxiliary

The shelter is filled with homeless pets who are just as eager to find their forever homes. Nearly 180 dogs, cats and small pets are currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.

The Heritage Humane Society welcomes donations including the sponsoring of pet adoption fees like the ones The Wes Strong Foundation provided.

To learn more, visit HeritageHumane.org, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.


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