You never know when you’ll have an experience that winds up changing your entire path in life.
As Kenneth Gonsalves watched a stranger count out his loose change to buy a single can of pet food in a store, he had a moment of clarity. He just couldn’t get it out of his mind.
Kenneth went home and told his wife Jill what he’d seen. “It was just bothering him,” Jill recalled. “It made him think, ‘How many people must struggle to do that?'”
The Acushnet, Massachusetts, couple are animal lovers who own two Labradors themselves. They’re all too familiar with how expensive it can be to feed pets, and they were moved to do something to help the man and anyone else who’s strapped for cash.
They shared the story on a local Facebook free trade page and asked for donations. Before they knew it, they were flooded with messages and comments!
Using donations along with some of their own money, Jill and Kenneth purchased a few hundred dollars’ worth of pet supplies and stocked them in a farm stand that has been in Kenneth’s family for years. Since they closed the stand at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pet food pantry seemed like the perfect way to repurpose the structure.
Kenneth and Jill shared news of the newly-minted Acushnet Pet Food Pantry on Facebook, telling everyone to take what they need and give what they can.
“Instantly, people really took to it,” Jill said. “I’d come home to stacks of boxes from Amazon and Chewy.”
Hundreds of people have visited the pet food pantry so far, and their story is inspiring others to open their own pantries nationwide. The Gonsalves have now turned their pantry into a nonprofit, and they frequently update their Amazon Wish List. The entire experience has renewed Jill’s sense of community during a difficult time.
“It’s been a really incredibly rewarding experience,” she said. “It’s neat to hear from people all over the country, Massachusetts, saying, ‘I’m going to start something like this where I live.'”
The Acushnet Pet Food Pantry still operates out of the Gonsalves’ home, in spite of national attention from celebrity supporters like Rachael Ray. The couple spends a lot of their own money to operate the organization, but it’s worth it to know they’re helping animals each and every day. You can check out their Facebook page for information on how you can help!
That one small moment in a store was the spark that lit a fire! This is such a wonderful way to give back. We hope others will follow this couple’s lead and open more pet food pantries around the world!
Share this story to spread the word and support animals in your own community.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.