Volunteering from home

By David Dickson

Volunteer opportunities at Best Friends cover a wide variety of activities. You can muck horse stables, read to shy cats, walk pigs, give a parrot a shower, sit and spend time with guinea pigs or rabbits, and more.

And yet the list grows even wider considering additional activities you can do from your own home. Meet two creative volunteers who have helped out the animals at Best Friends with their unique talents from the comfort of their own home.

Inspired origami

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Jianjia is inspired by the animals
at Best Friends.

Eleven-year-old Jianjia has visited Best Friends three times now as a volunteer with her mother, Robyn. When they come to town, they both love to roll up their sleeves and dive in. "We love the interaction with the animals and giving the animals some love," says Robyn. "I’m inspired every time I come there."

Jianjia feels the same way. "I went there and it inspired me," she says. So much so, in fact, that she decided to hold a fundraiser for Best Friends before their most recent trip.

For four years now, Jianjia has been perfecting her skills in the art of origami. She created a whole set of necklaces featuring origami cranes, then sold them last holiday season. Depending on the intricacy of the designs, the necklaces sold for anywhere from $5 to over $20. All money raised was for Best Friends. Between selling 30 such necklaces and holding a cookie bake sale on the side, Jianjia raised an impressive $500 for the animals at Best Friends.

"She had a goal of helping out," says Robyn. Mission accomplished, Jianjia.

Stitchin’ up a storm

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Best Friends supporter Ruth stayed busy
last winter making over 750 blankets for Cat World.

Another creative volunteer who’s made a huge difference for the animals from her home is Ruth Laitila of Seattle, Washington.

Ruth was visiting Best Friends in late 2010 when she noticed that a lot of the beds and blankets in Cat World were a mishmash of different colors and styles. Yeah, they were still soft and comfy. And the cats didn’t mind a lack of color coordination. However, Ruth had an idea. She wondered if she could add a splash of style. "Many of the caregivers really like things to be matchy-matchy," Ruth explains.

So, she went home and started hunting down bargain sales on bulk fabrics, fleece in particular. Then she set to work during the winter, stitching together, over the course of several months, a jaw-dropping 800 blankets for the cats at Best Friends. "The cats love them," says cat caregiver Teresa Fifer.

Ruth wanted to make enough beds and blankets so caregivers could use any color scheme they wanted. They were such a huge hit that Ruth decided to make another batch this year. She recently came up to deliver another 761 cat blankets, all of which were promptly snatched up and distributed around the various cat buildings.

"It kept me very busy during the winter months," Ruth says. One fun fringe benefit for Ruth has been that virtually every time she sees a photo of a Best Friends cat, one of her blankets is somewhere in the picture.

When she comes to town, however, she leaves her sewing machine at home so she can engage in some more traditional volunteering activities. Her favorite? "Hanging out with the cats," she says. Sometimes, even considering all the options, there’s nothing like the classic volunteering activity of simply spending time with the animals.

Volunteer at the Sanctuary

Interested in volunteering at Best Friends? Come on out!