When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, the blended family of Deb Kolkowski and Tom Olson gathered donations of food, supplies and cash for animals that had been abandoned or lost and housed in shelters struggling to make ends meet.
The couple, their daughter, Jenny Olson, and other daughter, Lindsey Nicholas, who owns Waggy Tails & Resort Spa in Hinsdale, will again help domestic animals expected to be stranded by Hurricane Irma in Florida. The hurricane, which is expected to make landfall Sunday, is causing widespread evacuation throughout the state.
Beginning Monday, from 2 to 6 p.m., Kolkowski, Olson and their daughters will conduct the “Pennies for Pets” drive by collecting a variety of donations for animals in the parking lot of Tractor Supply on Constitution Avenue in Olean. The family will continue to collect items and funds at the same time each day following, except Sept. 14, in the parking lot. The collection will continue through Sept. 25. Donations collected at businesses, schools and organizations in the area will also be picked up by the family Sept. 26.
From there, the family expects to drive the supplies to a Northern Florida community in need, Kolkowski said.
She said the current drive will likely be similar to a collection they held in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. During that process, they filled up the back of a pickup truck and a horse trailer with 3,000 pounds of food, donated supplies, cash and gift cards for animals and drove it to Slidell, La., for its distribution. The family stayed at their congregation’s sister church in Slidell, La.
Kolkowski said the gratitude expressed by people helping lost animals in Louisiana was beyond her imagination.
“Never in my lifetime did I expect something of that magnitude,” Kolkowski recalled. “Never in my life did we receive so many thanks.”
Olson noted the expenses for the upcoming trip to Florida will be paid for by the family.
“Everything that is donated is going (for the animals) — we won’t be paying for fuel or food” from donated funds, Olson said.
He said cash or checks for the collection, which can be made out to “Pennies for Pets,” may be deposited or sent to the Olean Federal Credit Union, 1201 Wayne St., Olean, NY 14760. Gift cards from Walmart, Petco, PetSmart, Tractor Supply and Home Depot that can be used for the purchase of supplies and pet food will also be welcomed.
Items needed include cleaning supplies, paper towels, crates, wet and dry dog food, cat, kitten and puppy food. Puppy and kitten formula, laundry detergent, leashes, collars, bowls, dog and cat treats, Dawn dish soap, bleach, litter and hand sanitizer are also needed. Other items accepted will include trash bags, poop bags, sponges, harnesses, blankets, towels and toys.
Donations can also be dropped off or mailed to Waggy Tails Resort & Spa, 979 Wagner Hill Road, Hinsdale, NY 14743 or the Olson Farm at 637 Butternut Brook Road in Portville.
For more information, or to arrange a pickup of donations, call Kolkowski at 933-8393 or Waggy Tails at 557-2400.
“We have always had a love and passion for animals and we felt we needed to do something,” Kolkowski added.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)