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A 'great day' at the animal shelter



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PFC Brad Hall was one of many volunteers Sunday at the Animal Shelter.
June 29, 2014
Adorned in yellow T-shirts with the word Pedigree on the front, dozens of volunteers spread out around and inside the Junction City-Geary County Animal Shelter Sunday.

There were soldiers, shelter employees, people who had previously adopted an animal from the shelter and friends all at the facility for one reason — to make it a better place.

"This is a great day," Shelter Director Jennifer Gfeller said Sunday morning, not quite midway through the only day of work, in which much was expected to be accomplished.

The animal shelter recently received a $10,000 grant from Pedigree and GreaterGood Foundation. Half of the money was for dog food, and the other half to make improvements to the facility.

That's why this group was all in and getting their hands dirty, too. Among the projects on the list included repairing the fence, reworking the gate, cleaning and laying new flooring in the cat room, landscaping outside and painting inside.

"Our shelter was selected," Gfeller said. "We had the need and desire to do good with it."

The $5,000 funded supplies, tools, the builder's time and anything else that is part of the work done to improve the shelter.

"They gave us some suggestions of what can be accomplished in one day," Gfeller said. "Things that need to be done that we couldn't find funds, people or have the knowledge to do it ourselves."

The key to the grant and project was to ensure the work being done would benefit animals and the shelter in the long term.

Gfeller said repairs to the old fence, which will allow the dogs to run around without direct supervision, will have a "huge impact."

A single gate to the exercise lots as well as the creation of a park area could not have been done without the grant or the volunteers who came out on Sunday. Aesthetics also were important to Gfeller and the shelter. Early in the day, work was occurring out in front of the building by adding mulch, removing weeds and manicuring the grass.

"When people walk into your shelter, they are going to look at what it looks like," Gfeller said. "A lot of things we could clean, but the floor was permanently stained. This will help us have a better appearance for those who want to adopt."

The outdoor area in front of the building is important to Gfeller, too.

"Instead of walking into a brick building, people see they are walking into a shelter where people care," Gfeller said. "We actually care. We don't just take in animals and sit around."

Gfeller couldn't say enough about the volunteers who showed up.

"In this one day, we probably couldn't have gotten this much done in six months with the staff," Gfeller said.

She was thankful for the help.

"When you can get a good group of people in doing things, you can get all that stuff accomplished," she said. "We are trying to accomplish better things for the shelter."

Soldier Mike Waller, also the husband of shelter assistant director Kirsty Waller, who obtained the grant, helped bring about 25 soldiers with him from Fort Riley and explained why it is so important to give back.

"They love to give back," he said about the soldiers. "Without the community support, they know Fort Riley goes away. They are here to do good and show that not all soldiers are the ones getting in trouble. They want to put a positive spin on what we do."

Along with the money for the improvements, the shelter also received $5,000 in dog food, which Gfeller said will likely last about a year. That will allow the shelter to use money typically spent for food on other improvements and needs.

"It is nice to not have the burden of having enough food," Gfeller said. "We still need cat food."

Gfeller said between the improvements and food, the grant will impact the shelter every single day.

"There's not going to be a day you don't walk in and something that got done today is not going to make a difference," she said. "It's huge. I can't say enough about the support of Pedigree and then the community coming out to help. Obviously we couldn't do it without the labor help."

Late in the morning, Gfeller was directing volunteers and requesting more materials. She did all with a smile and a purpose to complete as much as possible in one day.

"I can't wait to get it over with because I can't wait to see the finished product," she said about the day. "This is just really huge. Good things are happening at the shelter."

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