ONTARIO - Bethel United Church of Christ in downtown doesn't have hundreds of members, but it still was able to garner thousands of votes to earn a $5,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Bethel was among those vying for the Pepsi Refresh Project, which offers $5,000 grants to various nonprofits - for their Fury Friends Pet Food bank. The church has started a Furry Friends Pet Food bank in response to the overwhelming numbers of families having to surrender their pets to shelters for financial problems.
Established in 2009, Furry Friends is run by volunteers and operated with donations from people.. In 2009, area shelters had seen a 40 percent increase in pet euthanizations because families couldn't afford to feed them, said The Rev. Jonathon Edwards.
The church won its grant in December but decided to celebrate it Saturday during their pet food bank drive. "People accepted our pet food bank and saw it was a worth while cause," he said. "People all over the country agreed with us." A highly competitive process, Edwards said they were able to get their grant accepted in October. That meant their program was up for votes in November. I got two emails from people on the East Coast who heard about us. It's amazing people, random people, wishing us well," Edwards said.
In November, Bethel's program garnered a number of votes but not enough to win a grant. It was then that Bethel member Donna Saxton got the "This is a ity bity church in Southern California but we managed to do it," she said. For Y'dana Shanklin, news of Bethel's grant is a testimony of how much people believe in the program and what it offers. "It's nice to see someone who cares," she said. idea to build alliances with other programs across the state.
Shanklin, who has been on medical leave for a year, brought with her Boo, a black shorthair cat, on Saturday. Also in line was Ontario resident Rocio Gonzalez who was there for the second straight year. Bethel Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, is at 536 N. Euclid Ave. (at the corner of F Street) in downtown.
For information about the pet food bank or to make a donation of food or cash, call the church office at 909-984-9111.