Animal care centers and shelters require a lengthy list of items to keep the day-to-day doings of tending to dogs, cats, and other furry/scaly residents operating in an efficient, well-oiled, and compassionate manner.
It absolutely begins with food, yes, but consider all of the blankets, and bowls, and carriers, and cleaning suppies, and office supplies that lend needed back-up to the process of caring for someone's future lovebug. ("Future lovebug" meaning that the animals in question are awaiting forever homes.)
That's where Operation Santa Paws comes in each December. The Long Beach-based drive, which serves centers and shelters in both Long Beach and Orange County, sends out the call for a bevy of beastie-related items.
Thousands of such items have been collected since the program's start in 2001, and the goods range from the first things you think a dog or cat might need to those more unusual but helpful things that lend a critter comfort or specialized help.
Like, say, heating pads for baby animals, or cat scratchers (think the cardboard ones). There's a full roster of needs, from toys to treats to aprons/smocks for staffers, but if you can't give a bag of food or some blankets, consider a gift card to a local store that carries pet supplies.
Or a cash donation earmarked for an animal's medical issues.
As for the "Santa" part of Operation Santa Paws? A group of volunteers will round up all of the cans of kibble and towels and supplies and make the drop-offs at a few shelters around Long Beach and Orange County. That's happening on Saturday, Dec. 17, if you want to jump in and join.
As far as the drop-off locations go, and the dates? Operation Santa Paws opens to donations on Thursday, Dec. 1, and stays open through noontime on Friday, Dec. 16.
There are a few dozen locations around Los Angeles, Orange County, and Long Beach, from feed stores to grooming businesses to schools to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Eye the needs now, or dig out your Santa hat and prepare to make a few joyful, bark-worthy, meow-happy deliveries on the Saturday before Christmas.