BROOKVILLE — For the 17th year, Betsy and Dave Ferringer of Ferringer's Flowers in Brookville will be providing residents with an opportunity to help animals with the holding of its annual Pet Food Drive from March 1 through March 15.
Betsy Ferringer said that the store originally began holding the drive 17 years ago when they got their first golden retriever, Chloe, who became a fixture to the store. Customers and other visitors began bringing treats for the dog when they stopped by the store, and it eventually became too much for just one animal. The idea to have the Pet Food Drive emerged out of that.
"We just decided that their attention should be directed to pets that didn't have," Betsy Ferringer said.
The decision was made to hold it during the first half of the month of March, as it allowed the store to get through the Valentine's Day holiday and allowed the drive to conclude on Chloe's birthday, March 15.
At the beginning of the drive, the front window of the store will be cleared out for the donations to be left there, and "as people bring in their donations, the window just fills up," Betsy Ferringer said.
Those interested in donating are permitted to give just about any animal-related product: food for a wide range of animals, including cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, birds and numerous others, pet care supplies such as cat litter and even pet toys if so desired.
Monetary donations are welcome as well, for those who are unable for one reason or another to contribute physical items.
"The facility is always glad for that, because they always have expenses, whether that be an electrical bill or a water bill," Betsy Ferringer said.
They can be dropped off at Ferringer's Flowers during business hours. Donors will be greeted by Flossie, the current golden retriever on staff, and will receive a rose as thanks for their generosity.
After that, Ferringer's Flowers will see to the shipment of the donations to the Gateway Humane Society in Falls Creek, the chosen recipient of the Pet Food Drive.
Gateway Humane Society is the Jefferson County facility. Betsy Ferringer said that, for the first 14-15 years of the Pet Food Drive, the donations went to PAWS in Clarion.
However, PAWS determined that it did not have the facilities to care for both cats and dogs, so it narrowed its focus down to cats only.
Betsy Ferringer said that the food drive's intention is to serve all animals and not just cats, so, recently, the drive has benefited Gateway.
Before the donations are delivered, however, their weight is measured to see how much was obtained, and financial contributions are tallied as well.
Throughout the history of the Pet Food Drive, Ferringer's Flowers has brought in 20.5 tons of pet food and products in addition to $21,052 in cash.
Betsy Ferringer said there is no specific yearly intake goal other than to gather as many donations as possible.
"They put it to good use," she said. "The volunteers at any facility try so hard to make those animals comfortable and well cared for that anything we can give them, any help financially or in products, they put it to good use."
This year, Ferringer's Flowers is trying out something a bit different with the Pet Food Drive as well — offering a challenge to the various 4-H Clubs in Jefferson County.
Betsy Ferringer said the challenge was offered to them because "so many of them are involved with animals, and they know what animals need."
The clubs are being challenged to draw in as many donations as they can, of products and money, with the winning club receiving a pizza party at the Fox's Pizza Den in Brookville.
Ferringer's Flowers currently intends to keep holding the Pet Food Drive annually.
"There's always a need," Betsy Ferringer said. "There's always an animal that needs a little love before it gets a new home."
Dave and Betsy Ferringer would like to thank the community for its support over the years. They specifically singled out J & J Feeds and Needs as a local organization that has especially supported the Pet Food Drive in the past.
"And if you can't donate, just love your own pet all the more," Betsy Ferringer said.
Ferringer's Flowers is located at 313 Main Street, Brookville. For more information, call (814) 849-8585.