‘Tis the season of giving—and we don’t just mean giving to your loved ones. For many, the holiday season marks an annual tradition of donating to charitable causes. For pet lovers, that means supporting nonprofit animal rescues and shelters, which often depend on the holiday season for the bulk of their donations each year.
This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic has made things trickier for groups across the country. Animal shelters and rescues throughout the United States are reporting difficulty raising money because they’re unable to host traditional fundraising events.
That means it’s time to step up to help—and plenty of rescue groups across the country are making it easy and fun, offering innovative and unique gifts that give back. From craft beer to calendars, here’s our roundup of seven out-of-the-box gifts that support shelters and rescues.
1 Hunky Holiday Cards
What happens when a state Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a local fire department team up for the holidays? The temperature gets turned way up. As part of its annual partnership, members of the Lakeland Fire Department whipped off their shirts and posed with puppies and kittens to bring awareness to the SPCA Florida.
“We wanted to try something different and unique, and both agencies brainstormed to come up with the idea of holiday cards,” said SPCA Florida Spokeswoman Randa Richter.
Together, the groups released a set of Rescued Pets Holiday Greeting Cards that include five different greeting cards and envelopes (plus a bonus card with Firefighter Santa Claus). Greeting card sets cost $10 plus shipping with all proceeds benefiting the SPCA, which helps animals in need in Florida get food and necessary medical care. It’s a super steamy way to support homeless pets. And while we’re on the subject of gifts that give back, just think: Receiving one of these cards from you might just be the highlight of your grandma’s holiday season.
2 Support Young Artists
3 Holiday Wreaths for Boxers
Whether you need a wreath for your door or a festive table centerpiece, here’s a fun way to decorate for the holidays and help pets in need: Order from Lynch Creek Farmin Shelton, Washington, and you’ll be helping support Boxers who’ve been dealt a rough hand.
Lynch Creek has partnered withAcross America Boxer Rescuein Burnsville, Minnesota, a volunteer group that helps rescue, rehabilitate and re-home unwanted and abandoned Boxers. Usually, during the holiday season, the rescue hosts a wreath and poinsettia sale at a local greenhouse. But this year, they’ve expanded to online sales—a convenient and socially distanced way to keep the tradition alive.
Now, no matter where you are, you can buy holiday wreaths, centerpieces, garlands and more online. (Lynch Creek will ship its products nationwide. A portion of the proceeds will help the Minneapolis-area rescue. As an added bonus, you can display your love for dogs on your front door with this wreathfeaturing a pup perched on top of the fresh pine. Happy howl-idays, indeed.
4 Custom Caricatures
You’ve always said your wacky pet acts like a cartoon character. Now, you can see what they’d really look like in animated form. In Tennessee, a local shelter will create a cartoon version of your pet, in exchange for a donation.
The Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter is offering pet caricatures to raise funds this holiday season. All you have to do to commission a work of art is send a PayPal donation of $20 for a pet portrait or $40 for a portrait of a person and their pet together. Add $2 for shipping, if necessary. (Local pickup is free.) Then, submit a photo of the pet and/or person in question via Messenger to the shelter’s Facebook page.
So far, the results have been downright adorable. Take, for example, George the bulldog, who they illustrated with his toy and floppy tongue perfectly exaggerated. According to Shelter Director Tammy Davis, the artist behind the caricatures is making a nominal amount per commission, but the shelter is getting “more than 60 percent” from each purchase. So go ahead and order this gift that gives back for your favorite pet parent. (Or for yourself—no judgment!)
5 Grab a Beer
6Light It Up
More Ways to Help Shelters This Holiday
Still wondering how you can help homeless pets this season? We’ve got you covered with these easy ways to give back.
Shop Their Wish List
Chewy’s newly launched Wish Lists let you search for a shelter or rescue in your area, shop from the list of products they need, check out and let Chewy handle the rest. You can even send a Chewy gift card through a shelter or rescue's Wish List, which can help them buy essentials like prescription food and medications. Send your local rescue this link — http://www.chewy.com/givesback — to encourage them to publish their Wish List if they haven’t already joined.
Donate a Chewy Gift Card
If your favorite shelter or rescue hasn’t yet set up their own Chewy wish list, don’t fret. You can still help them get the items they need by sending them a Chewy gift card. All you need is the organization’s email address. (It’s often listed on their website; call to confirm if you’re not sure.) Then select the amount you’d like to donate, add to cart, and check out as usual! As an added bonus, you can choose from our selection of downright adorable holiday images to accompany the card, making your gift extra heartwarming.
Support Businesses That Help Shelters
From< pizza joints to coffee shops to realty agencies, local businesses across the country are stepping up to help shelters and rescues. When you spend at a business that supports homeless pets, you’re putting your money where your values are. So make your dollars count when you’re shopping this season—and don’t stop there! Use your connections to introduce your favorite local businesses to shelters and rescues in your area, and encourage them to team up. It could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.