Humane society fundraiser combines barks, beer

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

In the wake of the recent hurricanes and wildfires bombarding the nation, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how we might be able to help improve the lives of our animal friends, who are equally impacted by such events.

A fundraiser at the Virginia Beer Company Tuesday night sought to raise money for Heritage Humane Society with entertainment, local beers and the cheers that naturally follow.

In its ongoing efforts to find permanent homes for pets, the humane society also coordinates with similar organizations across the country when devastation strikes. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Heritage coordinated with a Houston shelter to take in three dogs and two cats. A similar collaboration with the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter in Florida following Hurricane Irma arranged for the transfer of more than a dozen small-breed dogs.

“I have a fondness for Heritage because of my dog,” said George Marsh, who handles information technology and marketing at Coldwell Banker Traditions Real Estate in James City County. “The Heritage Humane Society is here, very active in the community.”

Coldwell Banker plans four community service events each year, and Marsh rallied for one to focus on the humane society where he adopted his collie-husky mix.

The business unleashed its inaugural Heritage fundraiser last year at its offices on Ironbound Road. But the indoor setting and limited parking muted the potential impact of the event.

This year, Marsh sought a more accommodating location. The Virginia Beer Company’s open, indoor layout and outdoor beer garden made sense, and it doesn’t hurt that so many people love beer and food trucks. The brewery is usually closed on Tuesdays, but such a cause warranted a few extra hours of service.

Marsh praised the humane society’s efforts to shelter and seek new homes for animals displaced during hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But such noble intentions are a strain on Heritage’s resources, underscoring the urgency of such fundraising events.

“We are so full right now. We’ve got animals like you would not believe,” said Kimberly Laska, the humane society’s executive director. “It’s hard to provide the quality of care that these animals deserve with limited resources.”

Laska said offering events at different venues, such as the Virginia Beer Company, help Heritage reach people they might not otherwise encounter.

“We need adopters. We need funders,” she said.

But a serious cause doesn’t need to eschew fun in the process. The event offered live classic rock hits courtesy of the Indigo Boys and catering from Suck on This BBQ’s food truck in addition to games, raffles and a puppy-petting corral. Admission was free, but organizers encouraged donations in the $10-$15 range.

Marsh was pleased with the growth over the previous year, estimating about 200 people in attendance Tuesday compared with 150 last year, when space was more limited.

“All in all, I think it was a success both years,” he said. “Both inside and outside were pretty packed by the end of the night. It was a huge success.”

It’s evidence that, even during trying times, there’s no shortage of kindness and compassion in the world.

“The people in this community truly care so much,” Laska said.

Want to help?

Other upcoming Heritage events include a yard sale on Oct. 28, reduced-cost spay and neuter events throughout November and December and the Christmas Bazaar at Bruton Parish Hall Dec. 9.

For more information or to donate, visit heritagehumanesociety.org.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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