Furry bodies at the Surrey SPCA were wiggling with delight when Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund delivered hundreds of dollars in pet food and accessories last Friday afternoon.
The organization collects donations year-round and delivers them to animal shelters and rescue societies across the Lower Mainland over the Christmas holidays.
Founder Kristen Neratini started the project with her husband in honour of their American pit bull terrier Loki, who came from a shelter in Chilliwack and was adopted around Christmas. Loki passed away in 2008.
“Christmastime came and it was a really hard time for us to be without him,” said Neratini.
She thought, “how can we honour his memory and what can we do to give back?”
Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund took off and the first year of donations in 2008 were delivered to the Chilliwack shelter.
“We filled two vehicles full of stuff to drop off and shelter staff were just overwhelmed. They couldn’t believe it,” Neratini said. “It was just stuff that they absolutely needed to help… keep the dogs occupied, to help them do their job better and provide for the dogs in their care.”
Countless businesses around the region have supported Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund by setting up donation bins in their stores.
“The toys and the blankets and the beds, the jackets, the collars the leashes, those things are items that the shelters can re-use,” Neratini said. “We’re helping a lot of dogs.”
This year marks Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund’s fifth year of giving to shelter and rescue animals. Four organizations were supported by this year’s donations, including the Chilliwack Animal Control, the Surrey Animal Resource Centre, Hug-A-Bull Advocacy and Rescue Society and Paws for Hope Animal Foundation. Last year 20 organizations benefitted but a shortage of volunteers hampered distribution for this year’s campaign.
The lack of helping hands caused Neratini to announce that this would be the last year the project could continue after her husband fell ill and could no longer help as he once did. But Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund will continue to give, thanks to the help of two dedicated individuals that stepped up to help for next year.
“Just with the volume of donations that we get, storage is an issue, timing, and just, trying to plan everything can be really difficult,” she said. “We are going to… continue on as long as we can,” she said.
Loki’s Christmas Wish Fund is always looking for volunteers that can pick up or drop off donation boxes to participating businesses, sort donations, or help promote the program by dropping off promotional material.
“(Loki) was a very special dog who I miss very much,” she said. “So it’s very, very nice to be able to give back and do it in his name,” said Neratini.