Turning photos into food

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By LINDA WOODLAND
MANAGING EDITOR

If you are going to wish, wish big.
But sometimes a wish can take on a life of its own and the results can be more than you could ever imagine.
Such could be said for the Humane Society of Seneca County.
Like any non-profit organization that depends on the generosity of others to help it stay afloat, the HSSC is always in need of supplies.
Whether it be food for the animals sheltered there or soap, paper towels and copy paper, HSSC always has a wish list of items it needs.
But over the past few weeks, that list of needs has taken a dramatic hit.
It started with a donation drive conducted by the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. During the month of February, the library ran a “Love Your Pet” supply drive. That effort resulted in over 70 items that included bleach, kitty litter, pet toys and food, to name a few.
“They did this on their own, I didn’t know about it until they brought items in,” Madisyn Gonzales-Campos, executive director of HSSC, said. “That’s fantastic.”
And then along came Taylor Elchert-Harrison, a popular, much-sought-after Seneca County portrait photographer.
Elchert-Harrison came up with “Contest for a Cause” to try and raise some donations for the humane society.
“I am a huge animal lover and I try to support any animal rescue in any way that I can. I saw the humane society had made a post on their Facebook page that they were in need of some items so I thought it would be a great way to collect some donations for them. I never imagined it to turn into what it was,” she said. “It was awesome.”
Elchert-Harrison’s contest awarded points for every donation dropped off at her Tiffin studio between March 14-17. For example, a large bag of dog food was worth 5 points while a small bag was worth 1 point.
The family scoring the most points would receive full photo-session fees waived for the next three years — a value of approximately $600.
The result of the three-day contest was nothing short of astounding as more than 1 ton of dog and cat food was dropped off at Elchert-Harrison’s photography studio as well as hundreds of gallons of laundry detergent, bleach and soap.
In addition, the contest brought in hundreds of paper towel rolls, 300 cans of wet canned food, about 100 toys, 75 reams of copy paper and 30 books of stamps.
“A lot of it is still buried behind other things,” Elchert-Harrison said, adding she was trying to tally up all the donations collected at her studio.
“When I saw that go off and it went viral I thought, ‘Oh my Gosh!'” Gonzales-Campos said. “That was a huge surprise to Taylor and myself. I still can’t believe it.”
The contest was advertised through a post on Elchert-Harrison’s Facebook page, which she kept updated throughout the three-day contest by announcing the top point-getter every time the lead shifted hands.
And on Saturday, that happened quite often as families delivered their donations only to race back to the store to bring in more donations in hopes of being the winner at the end of the day.
“When I first dreamed this event up, I could have never even imagined it to turn out this wonderful,” Elchert-Harrison said.
At the contest’s end, it was the family of 10-month-old Emmitt Tomlin of Tiffin who brought in the most donations, garnering 1,570 points. He is the son of Jessica Ducas and Dakota Tomlin.
And as bountiful as the donations are, it won’t take long for the HSSC to deplete the supply.
At full capacity, the shelter can house about 60 dogs and 150 cats, as well as a few other animals such as birds, rabbits, ferrets and other small pets.
“Our staff here has been absolutely fantastic with getting animals adopted out,” Gonzales-Campos said, adding now there are four dogs and 40 cats currently taking up residence at the animal shelter.
“So right now we are going through more cat food than dog food. Next month that could be a completely different story,” she said.
Now the question is: Where will the HSSC put all of this booty?
“We are actually getting a whole new shed built. We’ve started the process with that,” Gonzales-Campos said, adding construction is getting under way and will be ongoing for the next few weeks.
“I do have kennel space available and I do have my garage available,” she said, noting she is anxious to have the shed finished and that storage space available.
And despite all the goods collected in the past few weeks, HSSC is still accepting donations of laundry detergent, paper towels and bleach.
“We go through that stuff like crazy,” Gonzales-Campos said.
But another ever-present need of the humane society is gas cards.
“We need those so the agency can respond to all the humane calls we get,” she said. “All those donations tremendously help out.”
For more information on how to donate to the Humane Society of Seneca County or to adopt one of the furry friends taking residence there, call 419-447-5704, drop in at 2811 Ohio 100 in Tiffin, visit https://www.humanesocietysenecacounty.org/ or find the Humane Society on Facebook.

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