By Whitney Coy
LifeCare Alliance has taken care of central Ohio’s older and medically challenged adults for years through their Meals-on-Wheels program. Now they’re stepping up to the plate yet again to make sure those clients don’t have to worry about caring for their pets – and they’re asking for your help.
LifeCare Alliance Communications Director Michelle Jones said the idea for the Senior PetCare program started a few years ago, when volunteers delivering meals found that clients were sharing some or all of their food with their pets.
“Most of these people are on fixed incomes,” Jones said. “They don’t have the money to buy food for their animals.”
Jones said for the elderly and home-bound, pets are often much more than pets. They serve as family members for the lonely, social workers for those who need comfort through hard times, and security systems – something that’s very important since older adults are often the target of crime.
“We reached out to local companies and corporations for donations of dog food. They sometimes have pet food with damaged packaging. We divide it up and give it to our clients so they don’t have to share their lunch with their pets,” she said.
As the Senior PetCare program has expanded, LifeCare has formed a partnership with the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine to provide home visits for pet checkups.
They’re also partnered with Banfield Pet Hospital for situations where a pet needs more serious attention.
“If these people can’t afford pet food, they certainly can’t afford shots and to have claws trimmed,” Jones said.
The donations keep rolling in, they just aren’t enough to sustain the growing program. LifeCare Alliance is reaching out to the community to help keep it going.
Through the new 12 for 12 initiative, LifeCare is asking for donations of $12 per month for 12 months, with all proceeds to benefit the Senior PetCare program. According to its website, the organization hopes to raise $15,000 by the end of the year.
“There’s no money in this for us,” said Jones. “This is all to help our clients and their pets.”
Set up a monthly donation by visiting http://seniorpetcare12for12.kintera.org. If you don’t want to commit to a full year of donations, you can make a one-time donation on the same site. Checks can also be mailed to LifeCare Alliance, Senior PetCare, 1699 W. Mound St., Columbus, OH 43223.
Opening your wallet isn’t the only way to help Senior PetCare. The program is also looking for volunteers to deliver pet food to clients.
“This is a lot easier than Meals-on-Wheels because you pick up the food on one day, and then you have two or three days to deliver it,” said Jones. You can pick it up on Monday and then deliver it when you get off work on Wednesday.”
Anyone looking to volunteer should call 614-444-MEAL(6325). LifeCare alliance serves residents in need throughout Franklin, Madison and Marion counties.