5 ways to pay it forward: Lend a hand (or a paw)

Published 10:38 pm Friday, November 1, 2019

Humane Society in need of volunteers and donations


Editor’s note: This is the first in a five-part series about ways to pay it forward in the community during November, the month of giving.

Email newsletter signup


Albert Lean Bob Johnson went into the Humane Society of Freeborn County last week, curious about the organization’s trap and release program for feral cats.

He walked out committed to be a volunteer and has come in every day this week to do so.

“It all started when I put a can of tuna out for a feral cat,” he said of his love for cats.

So far, he has cleaned and worked on landscaping outside of the Humane Society’s shelter and plans to continue volunteering in the future.

Johnson said his doctor told him to exercise and lose weight, and volunteering at the Humane Society is a good way for him to get out of the house and get moving.

“That’s my reward — my health,” he said.

Of course, he loves the animals, too.

Christa DeBoer, director of the Humane Society, said just as Johnson has already learned, there are many opportunities to volunteer and give back at the organization.

She said one of the biggest things the Humane Society needs are consistent people who can commit to regular volunteering, whether it be as often as Johnson, once a week or even once a month. People often don’t understand they don’t have to volunteer every week to be a committed volunteer, but she needs people that are reliable.

The shelter is cleaned every morning, and volunteers are particularly needed from 8 a.m. to noon Sundays for cleaning the cat area. 

While cleaning and scooping boxes, volunteers can help socialize with the animals at the same time.

People can also come and walk dogs, though there is not always a dog available to be walked.

Volunteers are required to fill out an application and meet with DeBoer, who provides a tour of the facility and talks with the volunteer about what kind of work they would enjoy.

Volunteers need to be 18 years old or over, or else be accompanied by an adult.

Volunteers are also needed to answer phones and answer questions from the public during hours open to the public — from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

If you’re unable to volunteer at the shelter itself, there are other opportunities to get involved, too, whether that be through fundraising, grant writing or helping recruit other volunteers.

Supplies are always needed, DeBoer said, as the shelter presently houses 70 cats and 10 dogs. There are another 50 cats in foster homes.

Some of the supplies the organization needs presently are the following:

• 13-gallon garbage bags

• Dryer sheets

• Laundry soap

• Clumpable cat litter

• Purina cat chow (blue bag)

• Purina dog chow

• Litter scoops

• Canned cat food

Though working at the shelter does require more manual work than people realize, she said it is an enjoyable time, too, and people get the chance to make friends with the animals.

“It’s very fulfilling,” she said of her work at the organization. “It’s good for the heart.”

Danielle Peterson of Albert Lea said she volunteers four days a week cleaning litter boxes and cages for the cats.

“I love animals — mostly cats, and dogs, too,” Peterson said.

She has been volunteering for four years.

People interested in finding out more about the opportunities available through the Humane Society can call 377-8501. Founded in 1976, it is at 101 James Ave.