P.A.W.S. for Fun, Funds and to Feel Good

When you think of chicken soup what are some of the first things that come to mind? You are feeling puny and someone cares to make you feel better? Or do you think of a book about and by almost any marketing demographic in the nation: couples, teenagers, those grieving, addicts, spiritual groups, techies, gardeners and, of course, every kind of animal-lover in God’s creation. Chicken Soup for Human Life’s Soul series, who has not read, or at least heard of them? They are translated and sold all over the world.

Chicken soup is the national metaphor for helping one to feel better. On June 28, 1993, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing Company was born from a small book idea that no major publisher would touch. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were the original authors, and after building the Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul brand into a major corporation, they sold off the company in 2008. Since then, the brand has continued to flourish.

Nationally known celebrity veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker is a best-selling author of many Chicken Soup for the Animal Lover’s Soul books: Cats, horses, dogs. He has other titles, too, branching out into the relationship between humans and their pets, and their curiosity about pets. Why do horses sleep standing up? Why do cats always land on their feet? Why are people with pets happier and healthier? What can we learn about grieving from our relationship with our animal friends?

Are you totally fascinated yet? How can you not be? I had purchased my tickets to tonight’s (May 30th) event: “Chicken Soup for the Aiken Horse Lover’s Soul” when I started doing a little more research into the headliner for the event, Dr. Marty Becker, DVM. If I hadn’t had the tickets already, I would have gone straight to the Equine Rescue of Aiken Facebook page, or its website (www.aikenequinerescue.com) and ordered them. It is at the Aiken Center for the Arts on Laurens Street. You can buy tickets for the same price at the door. This is an event not-to-be-missed; here’s why…

The topic has to be fascinating to area residents. Animals? Are we not terrifically special because of our relationship with animals? Dr. Becker is an entertaining, walking encyclopedia on most of the animals we care about: horses, dogs and cats, and probably others, too.

The $20 ticket price includes wine, beer, tons of hors d’oeuvres, the speaker and the opportunity to invest in the self-enhanced chance to go home with some truly valuable items: a $6,500 diamond tennis bracelet, original art by real artists, and some other expensive stuff you might never have the chance to own were you not to participate. You buy all the tickets you want in lots of 4, then you weight your chance to be selected to go home with the rare gift of your choice. All of the food, drinks and gifts are donated, so you can walk through the door at 6pm for $20. Admit it; you cannot afford not to go.

The best reason to turn up tonight is Equine Rescue of Aiken. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in which we can all take pride. Jim and Debbie Rhodes love and passion for homeless animals show up in everything they do for and with this amazing facility. They, their volunteers, and supporters have built a rescue and re-homing enterprise for horses and dogs that represents our greater Aiken Community so well. We can all be thankful that Aiken County is Equine Rescue’s home.

In the unfortunate event that you are not available for this evening’s festivities, let me tell you about some other opportunities to have fun, raise some funds, and feel good about being involved.

This month (May) The SPCA began a new summer series, “Phideaux’s Flea Market (8am-2pm) and Dog Wash (10am-2pm).” If you want to make a little extra cash, you can buy a spot and have your own “garage sale” at the site for $50 plus whatever you don’t sell. Your leftovers will go to raise funds for the SPCA at their Treasure Chest locations throughout the area. The next Phideaux’s Flea Market is on Saturday, June 14th.

PAWS (Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, Inc.) would like to offer you another alternative to do a really good thing. If you can’t be bothered to sell all that stuff taking up storage space, give it to us. We will sell it at the Phideaux’s Flea Market and use the funds to continue to promote our Spay/Neuter Your Pet (SNYP) program throughout the county. We currently have sites operating in the valley through the Burnettown Hall, Windsor at the Shell Station and Jackson at Town Hall. In Jackson alone, we have helped the SPCA fix over 50 animals since April 1, 2014. All our subsidized surgeries are done at the SPCA.

The SNYP program, through referrals to the county voucher program, FOTAS in Wagener, Lenny’s Brigade for stray cats and the SPCA is making a significant contribution towards keeping animals out of our local shelters. That is the PAWS Mission: Unwanted pet prevention and well-homed pet retention. SNYP is the heart of our efforts. Check your sheds, garages and closets for items to donate then call: (803) 634-0564 or 226-9479. We will make it easy for you to get your stuff to us.

We hope to see you tonight for some figurative chicken soup and a lot of real goodies. We also encourage you to plan for Saturday, June 14 at the SPCA Albrecht Center, 101 Willow Run Road. In between think about how to participate: give your goods to PAWS for SNYP, have your own table and give the rest to the SPCA, or just come and shop. It will make you feel good, like chicken soup.

A retired organizational problem-solver and radical educator, Joya Jiménez DiStefano is an artist, Servant Leader, co-founder of FOTAS, and founder of PAWS, Inc.

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