Fifth Annual Santa Paws Raises Proceeds For Humane Society
by James Coulter
Everyone deserves to be at home for the holidays, and that includes our furry friends. The Humane Society of Polk County works hard to ensure that dogs and cats receive a good home, especially during the holidays, and they do that through the proceeds they receive through fundraisers such as their fifth annual Santa Paws.
For the past five years, the Humane Society has been hosting their annual holiday fundraiser to allow guests to ring in the holiday season while donating funds that help the local rescue shelter maintain operation year-round. For the past four years, the annual fundraiser has been hosted at Jensen’s Bar in Downtown Winter Haven, with this year’s holiday event celebrating its fifth year on Tuesday evening.
Several dozen guests from the local community congregated within the bar that evening to enjoy drinks, food, and live music as provided by Polkweed Muzique, as well as engage in silent auctions and 50/50 raffles for prizes including a Chest of Cheer.
“It is very successful,” said Kristie Renardson, Event Chair. “It is a good money maker that doesn’t cost us very much money. So the money goes where it is supposed to go to the Humane Society.”
Aside from allowing the locals an opportunity to start the holiday season with fun and merriment, the event also allows them to support and donate to a great organization that in turn supports the community through its services.
“It is so much fun,” Renardson said. “Everyone enjoys it. So far, it has exceeded expectations aside from the cold weather, [which] we think that is a plus because it is the holidays. We strive every year to exceed the amount we made before…Whether you are a pet lover or not, it helps the community in many ways.”
The Humane Society of Polk County prides itself as the first no-kill shelter in Central Florida. Earlier this year, they opened their new state-of-the-art facility along Dundee Road in Winter Haven.
Adopting their shelter animals proves quite the challenge, as they take in animals as fast as or faster than they adopt out, explained Beth Koon, Board of Directors. Even more of a challenge is running their facility, which can spend as much as $1,500 a day to maintain operations, she said.
As such, their premiere fundraiser event of the holiday season helps them raise proceeds that go directly towards covering the costs of their daily operations, as well as provides a great evening for their guests.
“We are very thankful to all our supporters and planning committee, and this fundraiser will help us finance our daily operations,” Koon said.
Their success over the past five years has been mostly due to the community support, especially the support garnered by their planning committee. By reaching out to the local community, they have ensured that the community reaches back and helps out an organization that in turn helps them.
“The committee has done a great job reaching out to the community,” said Lisa Baker, Executive Director. “They have been very supportive. It has been wonderful, they are great to work with, they are very supportive of the humane society and the work that they do.”