What does 25,000 pounds of dog food look like?
To kick off the Friendship Pet Food Pantry, volunteers secured 12.5 tons of kibble for hungry dogs in the 47th Ward.
Ward 47 community outreach director Dara Salk and fellow volunteer Betzi Poole received the donation from Banfield Charitable Trust through a Facebook contest.
Supporters had to accumulate 40,000 likes and shares on a post that helped fight pet hunger.
For achieving the goal 24 days before the deadline, Banfield Charitable Trust threw in an extra 5,000 pounds.
Organizers then had to figure out how to unload and store 25,000 pounds of food.
Salk picked a date and began rallying the troops. Found Chicago, an adoption agency on Rockwell, volunteered space and nearby GP Albums donated a fork lift and pallet lift. Another resident offered his trailer.
"These are our neighbors giving their time, and energy and trucks," Salk said. "How can you say no to that?
The Friendship Pet Food Pantry modeled itself after one already existing in Uptown. Patti Colandrea, the owner of the Bark Bark Club, started her business next to the Care for Real food pantry on Sheridan Road.
"No one should go hungry—people or pets," Colandrea said. "I saw people lining up for food and I knew a lot of them had pets."
So in 2010, she began a monthly pet food pantry using Care for Real's facilities.
That operation serves more than 200 hungry animals a month.
Salk hopes the Friendship Pet Food Pantry will have the same effect in the 47th Ward.
Pet owners can collect food every third Friday of the month, starting in October. Donations will run out of the Lincoln Square Friendship Center, a new food pantry that opened Sept. 18 at 2733 W. Lawrence Ave.
Care for Real received a piece of the donation along with PETsCan, which helps elderly dog owners fight Alzheimers.