Trinity Lutheran Church’s Pet Pantry adapts, carries on during pandemic
photo by: Elvyn Jones
Saturday was a routine morning for the Pet Pantry at Trinity Lutheran Church, located at 1245 New Hampshire St., much to the surprise of its longtime volunteers.
“We thought we would see tons of new people with so many people losing their jobs, but it still hasn’t hit us,” said Susan Hadl, who helped start the pantry more than four years ago, with fellow Trinity Church member, Joan Wohlers. “Our numbers are steady.”
Cathy King, a veterinarian and pantry volunteer, speculated people assumed the pet pantry was closed because the church has suspended Sunday services since Gov. Laura Kelly issued the statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home order in March. But the pet pantry has been open the last two months from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the church. The pantry distributes pet food and supplies to pet owners who might otherwise have to give up their animals.
Although she did not yet have numbers for Saturday, Hadl said on Saturday, May 9, the pantry served 229 individuals or families. That meant food for 400 to 500 cats and dogs, she said. That number fell within the pantry’s usual range, she said.
Nonetheless, King said a number of those May 9 pet owners were new to the pantry.
“We did have five first-timers,” she said. “They all lost their jobs because of the pandemic.”
The pantry has changed its protocol in an effort to keep volunteers and pet owners safe, Hadl said. Mask-wearing volunteers now take orders from customers in the parking lot east of the church, gathering information on the number, age and kind of pet or pets the customer owns. That information is then given to volunteers working inside the church, who then fill the orders for delivery to the parking lot.
With the goal of reducing the size of Saturday morning crowds, the pantry has increased the amount of food it gives pet owners from a one-week to two-week supply.
Thanks to benefactors, the pet pantry is well stocked with supplies, Hadl said. But she said it always welcomed donations of money, pet food or pet items. Those wanting to donate should drop by Trinity Lutheran Church during the pet pantry’s 10 a.m. to noon Saturday hours, she said.