ENOSBURG FALLS — Residents of Franklin County stepped up in force as part of a fundraiser held at Hannaford Supermarket in Enosburg, donating upwards of $1,500 in food and toys for Franklin County Animal Rescue and Cat Crusaders of Franklin County.
Hannaford Associate Relations Manager Ashley Brunton says that donations exceeded expectations.
“I made a pretty display with another associate and we just said, ‘Hey you can drop your donations here.’ I was really scared that we were not going to get a lot of donations. Every day I would just see another cart and I’m like, ‘This is awesome,’” she said.
Brunton says that they also received some cash donations.
“What kind of sparked this was I got some coffee at Starbucks one day and they had a little display of posters with their pets on them and were collecting donations for dogs and cats and I said, ‘We should do that here,’” she said.
She says that Hannaford timed the fundraiser to coordinate with an employee engagement event called “Love Your Pet Day.”
“We displayed associate pictures with their pets and we don’t usually have a huge participation rate with employee engagement,” she said. “I had associates who never talk and they’re so quiet and they’re like, ‘Can I participate in this? I really want to!”
Jamie Rushford is the founder of Cat Crusaders of Franklin County: “The amount of donations we received was great! The support is wonderful!” says Rushford.
Rushford began the nonprofit Cat Crusaders in 2019. She works nine-to-five as a hairstylist in Enosburg, but moonlights feeding and rescuing cats across Franklin County. Farmers who have her number will call if there’s a stray cat on their property.
“We go in and trap starting on Friday night. Saturday morning we go check traps and reset traps. Move the cats back to wherever we’re staging the cats that weekend. By Sunday night we have our count of 30. On Monday morning, we clean the cats and load them into a rented U-haul,” she says.
Rushford and her team rescued and spayed or neutered 500 cats last year. Donations received will be split between Cat Crusaders and Franklin County Animal Rescue (FCAR).
in an e-mail to The Messenger FCAR — created in 1964 — calls Cat Crusaders an important partner.
“They have been doing great work helping us and a few other stake-holders to fix and vet animals that are considered strays,” says FCAR in an email.
The organization says it’s hard to calculate the number of strays, and that they have a larger territory than most people might think.
“A loved barn cat might walk onto a neighboring property and be thought of as a stray. However, one thing is for sure, with the low rate of spaying/neutering the number is sure to climb,” the organization said.
Rushford says that donations of money or food can be made outside of the fundraiser by going to the group’s Facebook page.