Deck the Cart: ISU community donates to Humane Society

December 19, 2011

Amidst all the festive seasonal decorations, a different kind of ornamental element adorned various Indiana State University buildings: an oversized metallic cart.

ISU faculty, staff and students donated two cartloads' worth of items to the Terre Haute Humane Society in the "Fill the Cart" drive. For several weeks prior to December commencement, the large green cart found its way to various campus buildings, from the College of Technology and Stalker Hall near downtown Terre Haute to the Scott College of Business. People donated supplies ranging from cleaning supplies to canned dog food, nabbing items on a "wish list" of goods the animal shelter needs to operate every day, not just during the holidays.

"We see an increase in donations during this time, and we see an increase in adoptions as well, but I think this is the first real big drive like this that we've seen," said Jessica Hoffman, operations manager for the Humane Society, "and it's a really cool partnership between ISU and the Humane Society that is being built by this drive."

The cart spent several days in each location, and people donated a variety of items, filling up the cart multiple times in the process. Bradford Sims, dean of the College of Technology at ISU, first conceived the idea for the charity drive as a way to support the shelter.

The cart includes a sign with the list of items the shelter needs for animal care.

"The items that are listed on there are inexpensive items, but the Humane Society has to use those year round," Sims said. "While the cart was an idea for this event, it's not meant to be limited to just the holiday season. It also was a way to get the word out that these simple products that they use are needed every day."

Several ISU students regularly volunteer at the shelter, and more students sometimes work at the shelter as part of a class initiative, said Hoffman, a 2007 ISU graduate who majored in psychology.

Several Indiana State professors and staff members also volunteer with the shelter. Maggie Wheeler, an instructor in the English department and the outreach coordinator for the animal shelter, has seen the need that the shelter has for items, and stressed that people can still donate goods after the cart drive ends.

"We use bleach in every single load of laundry, and we do about 12 loads of laundry every single day, and we also use that to clean. It's a constant battle to keep the shelter clean and sanitary for those animals so they" don't spread disease, Wheeler said. "So you don't think a bottle of Clorox would make a difference, but it really does."

The Terre Haute Humane Society is also participating in the Iams Home 4 the Holidays, which "partners with organizations dedicated to finding homes for pets." Since the initiative started in 1999, it has found families for more than 5.7 million pets around the world, according to the Helen Woodward Animal Center, which created the Home 4 the Holidays campaign.

The local shelter has expanded its sites during the winter months. During the weekends leading up to Christmas, people can visit with and apply for adoption of dogs and cats at the Honey Creek Mall, while cats are available at the Meadows shopping center, though hours at the respective sites vary. They will be available there until Christmas Eve.

The Terre Haute Humane Society has a contract with the city and Vigo County to provide local animal control support, but the shelter receives no additional government funding, Wheeler and Hoffman noted, which underscores the need for community support. The shelter is a low-kill facility, with a euthanasia rate of about 7 percent, Hoffman said.

"But we can only continue to be that way if we get community support," added Hoffman. "In my position, I'm trying to figure out how to balance the community's needs and maintaining a low euthanasia rate, so it's proving to be challenging."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/i-gZXzstX/0/L/i-gZXzstX-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Bradford Sims, dean of the College of Technology at Indiana State University, poses with two dogs from the Terre Haute Humane Society next to the cart used for the "Fill the Cart" drive. In the campaign, members of the ISU community donated basic goods the shelter needs for animal care. Volunteers always take care of the animals, even on holidays such as Christmas and New Year's Day.

Contact: Bradford Sims, dean, College of Technology, Indiana State University, 812-237-3166 or bradford.sims@indstate.edu.

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu.