How FaithCentre in Bellefonte helps families feed their furry friends, too

A few days before Christmas in 2008, a stray, leggy, skinny black and white dog was brought into the FaithCentre by the woman who found him roaming the streets. I carted the dog home and my husband, Terry, immediately named him Max. The next few days we underwent an unsuccessful search to find the dog’s original owners. Within 48 hours of entering our home, however, Max had won Terry’s heart and a permanent seat on his lap so we were actually relieved that no one claimed him and that Max could stay with us permanently.

During the hunt for the owners, we called the SPCA in several counties and were distressed to hear that people were abandoning animals because they couldn’t afford to feed them. The Great Recession was in full swing and people across the country were struggling. While the very thought of ditching an animal is abhorrent to most pet owners, we understand that caring for and feeding a pet can be expensive.

In response to learning about the problem of pet surrender and to ease the financial burden of tending to companion animals, the FaithCentre Food Bank started stocking pet food. The Food Bank was feeding over five hundred people each month and it seemed like a natural extension of our mission to help clients feed their furry companions.

Over the course of the next few years, the effort slowly evolved from offering the occasional donated bag of dog or cat food into its own ministry, the Pet Food Pantry of Centre County. Today, hundreds of low-income area families visit the Pet Food Pantry in Bellefonte or State College each week to receive a supplemental supply of pet food. In addition to cats and dogs, the Pet Food Pantry has provided food for guinea pigs, rabbits, a turtle, and one chatty cockatiel. We are also able to give away pet toys and dog treats during the holidays and sometimes have a stock of cat litter available for distribution.

All of the staff and volunteers at the FaithCentre take great joy in caring for God’s creatures and we encourage those who need help feeding their four-legged friends to visit our Pet Pantry locations. Pet Food can be collected from the FaithCentre Food Bank at 131 S. Allegheny St. in Bellefonte on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. For those near State College, the Pet Food Pantry is graciously housed in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 208 W. Foster Ave and is open Wednesdays from 9-11:30 a.m. under the direction of Sherry Piamonte.

Max, by the way, turned out to be an Italian Greyhound and was deeply loved and very well fed until his passing in 2017.

Nicole Summers is the executive director of Faith Centre in Bellefonte.