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Animal Food Pantry begins sixth season, seeks donations

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MASSENA — A local organization has begun another year of feeding animals owned by the elderly and disabled in the community.

The Animal Food Pantry is now in its sixth year, according to founder Sandra L. Donaldson, who said its first distribution held last week drew a large crowd.

“The first one of the season was Wednesday. We were mobbed. They were lined up outside the door at 12:30, and we didn’t open until 1,” she said.

That’s a far cry from the day its doors first opened, Ms. Donaldson said.

“When we started, it was very slow. We had very few clients,” she said. “It has grown in the six years. I think as of yesterday we had 95 clients.”

That’s up from the 68 clients she served last year, who owned more than 96 dogs or puppies and 84 cats or kittens.

Distribution is held once a month from 1 to 3 p.m. last Wednesday through March at the Massena Community Center, Beach Street. Supplementary food is distributed once a month to those who qualify, Ms. Donaldson said.

“We only do it from November through March. It’s usually the first Wednesday of the month,” she said.

“There is some confusion as to who is eligible,” she said. “We started out with just senior citizens 55 or older. Then decided to also offer it to disabled persons. I’ve talked to people in the food pantry. The older people are too proud. Our main objective is to help those people. Their Social Security checks are small.”

Anyone who is already a client does not have to reapply for the service. Those who are applying for the first time need proof of age to show they’re 55 or older or proof of their disability to qualify.

Ms. Donaldson said that as the need in the community grows, so does the need at the Animal Food Pantry, and it is always accepting donations of food or money.

“Like other charitable organizations in our community, we are struggling to keep going,” she said. “Basically it’s food. We try if possible, and if it’s not overly expensive, to give them the food that their pet has been accustomed to. So often if you try to change a pet’s food, it makes them ill.”

She said the pantry also will ask on occasion for cat litter.

Donations can be sent to AFP, 173 McKinley Ave., Massena, N.Y. 13662, Attn: Sandra Donaldson. Food donations can be dropped off at the Community Center, or call 769-2806 for pickup.

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