A Wellesley St. E. apartment building fire in September that displaced more than 1,200 people has claimed another victim” a pet food bank that helped supply food to the building’s pets is closing. Project Maddie — which delivered about 900 pounds of cat and dog food to the Wellesley Community Centre, which had been temporarily set up to help residents who had been forced out of their homes — cannot meet its operating funds, says director and founder Kimberley Ford, who lives in Oakville and works as an insurance company underwriter. Supplying food to the pets of the Wellesley apartment residents wiped out the supplies in the food bank, said Ford, who did all the deliveries to Toronto in her 2000 Mazda Protégé. Most of the food was donated by a commercial retailer and consisted of food past its expiry date, which is still safe for consumption but cannot be sold. Ford estimates that Project Maddie helped about 300 pets from the fire and another 200 since she started the organization last April. It helped people at risk of losing their pets due to short-term financial instability, as well as seniors and people living with disabilities on fixed incomes. People would contact her through the website by sending emails or leaving phone messages asking for help. Ford was able to replenish through more commercial donations of pet food and now has 300 pounds, but there is no money to pay operating costs to cover the cost of a postal box, run the website, www.projectmaddie.com or pay for gas to deliver food. A volunteer at the Oakville and Milton Human Society, Ford started the organization because she saw a need to help people who were having trouble finding money to feed their animals. She estimates she has spent about $2,000 of her own money on the project. “It’s all about keeping a pet in a home where it’s loved and wanted and secure,” she said. Since its inception, Ford says she has raised about $800 in donations, which has all been spent on running Project Maddie. She says she needs about $200 a month. Ford says it’s possible the pet food bank could be revived if there was an outpouring of interest and donations to make it possible.
*The Toronto Star