Kids across Mercer County are showing their love of dogs who need help, their volunteer efforts benefitting hundreds of dogs in need of a permanent home.
For almost 10 years, Southern Comfort Animal Rescue (SoCo) has been bringing abused, neglected, and homeless dogs from rural Georgia to New Jersey, where they are adopted into loving, forever homes.
Driving a large bus outfitted with more than two dozen crates, volunteer and founder Scott Bennett makes the 1,700-mile round trip “Freedom Ride” every month to connect area dog-lovers with pups in need.
All the dogs come from a poverty area in Georgia, but New Jersey is SoCo’s second home. Adoption events take place at All Good Dogs in Lawrence Township.
As a result, Mercer County now has thousands of alumni, adopters, volunteers and supporters.
This spring, Hopewell Girl Scout Troop 70129 fulfilled their Bronze Service Award by making and donating tug toys, and collecting dog food and other supplies for SoCo.
Troop co-leaders Christy Stier and Lisa Springer worked with the fifth grade girls to collect and up-cycle old T-shirts, braiding them into more than 250 dog toys. They also led a donation drive to collect hundreds of pounds of dog food, supplies, and treats.
Each girl committed roughly 20 hours of volunteer time. The effort culminated at an adoption event where the girls met the dogs and dropped off their donations.
“These girls have such big hearts; it was wonderful for them to meet Scott and see the dogs,” said Stier, a self-proclaimed dog-lover. The troop selected SoCo, in part, because Stier herself has so many friends who have adopted through SoCo.
“We appreciate the generosity of our neighbors in donating to our effort, and we are so proud of our girls,” she said.
Young runners also stepped up to help SoCo Rescue. Titans Youth Run Club, under the leadership of parent organizers Christie Brown and Jacklyn Garay, dedicated its 2021 spring season to “Running for the Rescues,” with SoCo Rescue chosen as one of the beneficiaries.
The Ewing-based youth empowerment organization which serves children ages 5-12, hosted a 5K Fun Run, with children reaching out to friends, neighbors and family for donations.
The run raised $1,500 to help animal rescue organizations carry out their mission.
“I have known about SoCo for a long time; in fact, my own dog is a SoCo dog,” Brown said. “So many families in the area know about SoCo and have adopted through them.”
“We could not do our work without help from this kind-hearted community,” said Bennett. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!”
That help is needed now more than ever. The rented kennel property in Wheeler County, Georgia, which houses dogs until they have been rehabilitated and vetted before coming to New Jersey, is being sold.
Volunteers have launched a capital campaign dubbed Rescue Our Rescue, to raise $100,000 towards the cost to purchase a forever home for SoCo Rescue. SoCo is grateful to receive a grant from the Atlanta Humane Society but it is only allowed to be used towards necessary renovations.
SoCo has also received a generous commitment from The King Family Giving Foundation which has committed to match all donations, dollar for dollar, until May 31.
SoCo Rescue operates without government funding, with income only through modest adoption fees and donations.
To get involved or learn more about adopting a dog, go to www.SoCoRescue.com
To donate, go to Paypal at SoCoRescue8@gmail.com; or mail to Southern Comfort Animal Rescue, 1484 N. Highway 19, Glenwood, GA 30428; or Venmo at @SoCo-Rescue (Scott Bennett, 4 Digit Code 0145.
Follow SoCo Rescue on Facebook or #socorescue2001 Instagram.
Learn more at www.socorescue.com
* This information was provided by Considine Communications.