When Sonya Colattur was 10 years old, she recognized a serious need in her community that has turned into an entire movement.
“I grew up visiting my grandmother in assisted living facilities and I began to see the impact that companion pets had on the lives of senior citizens,” she told KNXV-TV in Phoenix.
Sonya also saw that when older cat and dog lovers were unable to care for their pets financially, not only was it hard on them, but it was hard for the pets to get adopted again as many of them are also elderly.
So she made a plan and presented it to her parents.
“When she approached her dad and I when she was 10, we were, we were thinking maybe a lemonade stand, or something like that,” her mother, Nancy, recalled.
And with that, GrandPaws Pantry was born.
“GrandPaws Pantry is a non-profit charitable organization with a mission to encourage the adoption of rescue dogs & cats, support responsible pet ownership through education, and to provide pet supplies to pets in need,” the organization’s Facebook page reads.
In the past year, 1,000 pet care packages have been delivered to needy senior owners. So many have shown interest in the service that there’s now a waitlist.
Sonya, now a 15-year-old high school sophomore, has done everything within her power to bolster her project, using personal funds, donations and grants to ensure that the pantry stays alive and well.
“Senior citizens treat their companion pets like they’re their family, and they are,” she said. “So, to be able to provide pet supplies to senior citizens with no cost to make sure that they can keep members of their family is such a meaningful cause.”
Carol Huggins has two cats and is a resident at Olive Grove Assisted Living. She’s been incredibly grateful for GrandPaws Pantry.
“They give me joy, they wake me up in the morning, they want hugs, they go pet me, pet me,” Huggins said of her cats.
“We get very little a month to live on and I’m so thankful that I don’t have to do without because of Sonya.”
As word about the outreach circulates, more and more groups are stepping up to help Sonya with her mission.
“We are so incredibly grateful to AZPetVet for their support of GrandPaws Pantry!” GrandPaws Pantry posted on Facebook on Feb. 4.
“Today we received pet food donations collected @AZPetVet clinics, as well as a generous donation from the AZ PetVet partners. This means everything and gives us much needed resources to continue our mission to help pets in need and the people who love them.
“Thank you to @AZPetVet and everyone who donated pet supplies to their clinics during the holiday pet food drive. Today was the best day!”