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Donors provide 500 pounds of pet food for IVAR in 4-hour drive Saturday

Donors provide 500 pounds of pet food in 4-hour drive Saturday

They lost a corporate food donor and that meant spending $58,000 a year to feed their sheltered cats and dogs. Chris Tomsha wondered how Illinois Valley Animal Rescue would manage without the corporate donations.

Answer: Better than she hoped.

Tomsha, IVAR executive director, parked a pickup truck Saturday on La Salle’s Creve Coeur Street and then, with fingers crossed, waited for motorists to drop off donations of pet food and other needed supplies. She didn’t wait long. Within minutes, sympathetic donors began trickling in with hefty bags of dog food and cases of tinned cat food.

“We love dogs,” said donor Peg Hunter of La Salle as she handed Tomsha grocery bags of food. “You sort of feel sorry for the dogs.”

Erin Lewis of Oglesby also dropped by to help IVAR keep their supper dishes full.

“They’re a great cause,” Lewis said, “and they help all the animals in the Illinois Valley.”

They and other donors helped IVAR bring in “easily 500 pounds” of food, Tomsha said, plus assorted supplies such as laundry detergent and paper products.

All of which comes as a relief to IVAR, which late last year got an unwelcome surprise: The PetSmart Distribution Center announced it was terminating its decade-long contribution of free pet food. (PetSmart Charities and the PetSmart store continue to support IVAR, however.)

News of the halted food donations did, however, prompt longtime donors to reach more deeply into their pockets and they have so far kept the strays and rescued animals with full bellies. Additional donations always are welcome, Tomsha allowed, but Saturday’s impromptu donations served as a reminder of how local folks will answer when IVAR issues an appeal.

“I thought it was going to be more difficult for us than it has been,” Tomsha said, “but we have such a giving community. We just put a plea out and people step up. It’s awesome. It’s unbelievable.”

Tomsha and her sister, IVAR president Sue Jacobsen, still are grateful to PetSmart for the literally tons of free food they’d donated over the years, and which enabled IVAR to direct their resources elsewhere.

“They’ve been supportive to IVAR for many years,” Tomsha stated previously. “We’ve gotten hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and probably saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Nevertheless, the ensuing math left them cringing: The halting of donated food put IVAR on the hook for some $42,000 to feed rescued cats and another $16,000 for dog food. IVAR seldom has a cash surplus after meeting payroll, utilities and other expenses, which made food costs even more daunting.

But Tomsha said she’s learned never to underestimate the generous donors of Starved Rock Country. As soon as word got out that food assistance was needed, IVAR received cash and in-kind donations such as the use of truck by Bill Walsh Automotive Group.

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