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Local pet pantry asks for community’s help to restock shelves during COVID-19

Amid the coronavirus, some people are having a hard time feeding their pets. Peninsula Pet Pantry is seeking support to help those in need.

YORKTOWN, Va. — Pets are helping alleviate loneliness and anxiety through the coronavirus pandemic, but people having financial trouble may struggle to keep up with their food and supplies. 

Michelle Wilkinson, director of the Peninsula Pet Pantry in Yorktown, has been working to fix that. The nonprofit gives temporary pet food and supplies to owners facing economic hardship.

"None of us, I think, know when this is going to end," Wilkinson said. "That fear has catapulted a lot of people into looking for resources, of which we are one." 

Wilkinson said the group has received an overwhelming amount of calls asking for help because of COVID-19. 

“We've had 300 phone calls just from social services alone, wanting to know if we could help,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, the group’s usual number of clients has quadrupled. With many donation sites now closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, the pantry fears it could run out food. 

“We've seen more people in the last month, I'd say, than we usually see in six months,” says Wilkinson. “And I think the scariest thing... for the first time in 10 years, I have empty shelves. I have no idea where the food is going to come from to help these people.”

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Wilkinson said the pantry needs at least 40,000 pounds of food to get through May. It’s asking for the community’s help. 

“Normally, we'd be able to supply people with a month or two worth of food to get them by. Now, it might be a few days or a week,” says Wilkinson. “Every dollar that is donated, I can stretch. I can make it work. I will do the grunt work. I just need the means to do it.”

The pantry's goal is to help make it possible for people in need to keep their pets. Wilkinson says their benefits to one’s health and well-being are even more vital during the crisis. 

"We can't visit our friends. We can't visit our families. We can't travel," said Wilkinson. "So many of our clients, their pets are family. Their pets are literally all that they have left. We need to be able to keep these people with the only things that they have."

The Humane Society has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create a map of pet food pantries across Virginia and Washington, D.C. Click here for a link to the map.

To make a donation or schedule an appointment with the Peninsula Pet Pantry, visit its website or check out its Facebook page

Donors can also contribute to the pet pantry via PayPal using the email address director@peninsulapetpantry.org.

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