Animal lover Sandy Allen of learned about People and Paws — a Dayton, Ohio, nonprofit that distributes pet food that operates on donations from various businesses and individuals— more than a year ago. She visited the distribution center, founded and run by Joyce Ahmad, and has been a volunteer ever since.
"I liked what Joyce was doing, and I get direct contact with pet owners we're serving, which is very rewarding," said Allen, who performs many needed tasks.
"People and Paws doesn't judge people. Some may not have made the best decisions on how to spend their money, but that doesn't matter. The pet food we give out isn't meant to be the pets' only source of food, but as a supplement to help owners," Allen said.
Like Allen, Ahmad and most of her 10 volunteers are seniors, although Ahmad's most loyal volunteer is her 11-year-old granddaughter, Natalya Sutaro, who's been helping since she was 4 years old. "She can run it as well as I can. She's taught me some things, and the other volunteers love her."
Youth from the juvenile courts bag food twice a month for community service. "Their probation officer has been with us since we started six years ago," said Ahmad, who said she started the service after watching a family on television dropping off two Labrador retrievers at a shelter because the couple couldn't afford their food.
"Their kids were sobbing, and I started sobbing," she recalls. "Then my husband told me to stop crying and do something." Since making that suggestion, her husband, Khurshid, has become chief finance operator of the operation, although Joyce says "we call him the FOC for 'free of charge.'"
Although the Ahmads live in Beavercreek, "I started in East Dayton because I work with local pastors and Christ Lutheran Church let us use a small area of the church. Later, Sandy's Towing on Valley Street saw us on the news, and let us use a larger space in their garage."
Last year, Ahmad bought a 188 square-foot garage. "We gutted it and converted it to our needs. It's just wonderful," she said.
People and Paws, a nonprofit that operates on donations from various businesses and individuals, also pays half the cost for spaying or neutering clients' pets. Although dog food donors are generous, "We always need dry cat food — we spend about $300 each month on that — gallon-size Ziploc bags, and we're in dire need of a van to pick up donations.
"In addition to donations, Centerville, Ohio, veterinarian Dr. Kathleen Grant does a Christmas food drive for us that's very helpful," Ahmad said.
"We've really grown, with 500 families currently registered to receive pet food; we distribute dog, cat and sometimes rabbit food to about 200 families each month," Ahmad said.
When they pick up their pet food, clients drop off two nonperishable food items that are collected by a local church for its human food pantry.
Ahmad said, "We don't take pets. Our goal is to keep them in loving homes with their families."
Anyone wishing to donate or assist should contact Joyce Ahmad at 937-912-5965 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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