On Giving Tuesday, consider Project Warmth

Stephanie and Zeke sitting comfortably on a pet mat. PROVIDED
Stephanie and Zeke sitting comfortably on a pet mat. PROVIDED

Giving Tuesday is Dec. 1 this year. It was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. The idea is simple: encourage people to do good in their communities and throughout the world by volunteering, giving and celebrating generosity.

Since this column started, I’ve written about an organization that should be celebrated for its work with animals. This year I’m recommending for your consideration a small business in Vandalia called Project Warmth and its owner, Stephanie Ross.

Ten years ago, Stephanie, a self-taught seamstress, started her business and named it as she did because she was looking for a “project” and would provide “warmth” with the quilts she would make for people and the mats and beds she would make for dogs and cats.

In time, Stephanie expanded into collars and leashes. She sells her products at art and craft shows, fairs and festivals. Nine stores in the Dayton area sell Stephanie’s products and she does a brisk business on etsy.com.

Early in the year, Stephanie selects and purchases the fabrics she’ll use. It took her about four years to find her “groove” in selecting fabrics customers would like. Plaids are always popular. Current customer fabric favorites include dinosaurs, succulents and fruits such as peaches, lemons and limes.

Fabrics featuring Harry Potter and the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG) are also popular.

Stephanie has three willing helpers ready to stretch out on one of her pet beds or model a collar. Lily, a 13-year-old beagle, Lexi, a 14-year-old beagle, and Zeke, a 10-year-old Golden Doodle are all rescues.

A friend happened to be at a mall pet store when Lily, then 4 weeks old, was left outside. The store didn’t accept dumped animals so she brought her home to Stephanie. When Zeke’s owner, a priest, took a traveling position, Stephanie’s family adopted him.

Lexi was adopted through SICSA. Her family moved and didn’t take her with them. She had lived with them her entire life. Stephanie couldn’t let a senior dog stay in a shelter for her remaining years.

In 2011, Stephanie started giving pet beds and pet mats to area rescue organizations at the end of each year. As of 2019, she had given 500 beds and mats. This November, Stephanie is slated to give an additional 45.

Some of the pet rescue organizations that have benefitted from Project Warmth’s generosity include Adopt a Pit, Humane Society of Springfield, Francis Kennels Rescue and SICSA.

There are two easy ways to donate a pet bed or mat. First, for every one that is purchased, Stephanie automatically gives one to a rescue organization. If your dog or cat doesn’t need a bed or mat at this time, you can purchase beds or mats to donate on Project Warmth’s etsy.com page. In the “message to seller” area, let Stephanie know these beds or mats are to be donated.

Stephanie also mentioned if anyone has any high-quality cotton fabric to donate toward the beds and mats, message her on Facebook.

Just the idea of a rescued dog sleeping on a pet bed or mat, maybe for the first time, warms the heart.

To donate a pet bed or mat:

etsy.com/shop/project/warmth

To find a store or event where Project Warmth will be selling products: Facebook: Project Warmth

Stephanie and Zeke sitting comfortably on a pet mat. PROVIDED
Stephanie and Zeke sitting comfortably on a pet mat. PROVIDED

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