Sis­ters gather do­na­tions for home­less and their dogs

Care pack­ages that in­clude clothes, dog food be­ing handed out Satur­day

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - T’CHA DUN­LEVY tdun­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/TChaDun­levy

Sara Capo­bianco has al­ways loved an­i­mals, es­pe­cially dogs. Over the years, she has worked with dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions to help find homes for aban­doned or mis­treated pets. So when she read a re­cent Gazette ar­ti­cle about a home­less man whose dog died in his arms in the freez­ing cold, she re­acted emo­tion­ally; and like other Gazette read­ers touched by the story, she de­cided to act. “I came to tears (when I read the ar­ti­cle),” Sara said. “It made me feel I had to do some­thing that was big­ger than my­self, to help these an­i­mals and home­less peo­ple find shel­ters and what­ever they need.” Sara spoke with her sis­ter, Sa­man­tha, with whom she has a long his­tory of help­ing oth­ers. In high school, the two bagged gro­ceries to raise money for the Old Brew­ery Mis­sion, and vol­un­teered at the or­ga­ni­za­tion once a month. To­gether, they be­gan think­ing of ways they could as­sist home­less peo­ple with pets in get­ting through the win­ter. “We wanted to start small,” Sara said, “to see how we can help.” They de­cided to put to­gether gift bags for home­less peo­ple with an­i­mals. They posted call-outs on dif­fer­ent Face­book com­mu­nity groups for peo­ple in the West Is­land, Vau­dreuil and Pin­court, and were amazed by the re­sponse. “It went from zero to 100 in a cou­ple of days,” Sara said. The sis­ters have raised more than $5,000 and put to­gether 50 bags of sup­plies, which they plan to dis­trib­ute to home­less peo­ple with and with­out an­i­mals on Satur­day. Tues­day evening, Sa­man­tha and her aunt went around pick­ing up items peo­ple had of­fered to do­nate. “We drove all around Vau­dreuil and filled the whole car with bags and bags of stuff,” she said. “We got dog food, clothes, boots, jack­ets, hats, a lot of money do­na­tions as well — which we used to buy gift cards — tooth­brushes and tooth­paste, hand warm­ers, feet warm­ers, long johns. We got good, com­pact sleep­ing bags and tarps; I heard they love hav­ing tarps. And ex­tra socks.” Sara and her friend Clau­dia, mean­while, used some of the do­nated funds to buy items such as dog food and dog toys. When Sara re­turned to her house, she found more do­na­tions on her doorstep. “I got home to an amaz­ing amount of cloth­ing, coats and dog blan­kets,” she said. “I was so over­whelmed, and so happy to see how many peo­ple were reach­ing out and help­ing. It warms my heart.” The sis­ters spent Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day at their par­ents’ house in Dol­lard-des-Ormeaux, or­ga­niz­ing all the sup­plies they had col­lected. “The whole base­ment was filled,” Sara said. “My mom, my dad and my aunt were all there. We were so happy, putting things in bags, see­ing how many clothes we’re get­ting out of all of this. We’re thrilled.” The Capo­bianco sis­ters work at a lo­gis­tics com­pany, through which they found spon­sors, in­clud­ing one com­pany that is lend­ing them a cargo van to dis­trib­ute the bags on Satur­day. They have planned a route along Pap­ineau, Ste-Catherine and Berri Sts. where they will also of­fer cof­fee and home­made cook­ies. Their aim is to make De­cem­ber feel a lit­tle less lonely for peo­ple on the street. “I just hope to give some­body a bit of the hol­i­day spirit,” Sa­man­tha said. “I’m thank­ful to have a roof over my head, a lov­ing fam­ily and my chil­dren, but I want to be able to give oth­ers a chance to be thank­ful for some­thing.” “I love an­i­mals, but I love hu­mans as well,” Sara said. “I want to make sure that on a cold night, they have a place to sleep. So if we can give them some blan­kets so they’re more com­fort­able .... We want them to know that (peo­ple) are reach­ing out to them.” The ini­tia­tive won’t stop here. There are more do­na­tions com­ing in, and the sis­ters are al­ready plan­ning to put to­gether an­other batch of bags to hand out. In the long term, the sis­ters plan to cre­ate a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion to help the home­less and their pets. “We hope more peo­ple come to­gether to help with this thing we’ve started,” Sara said, “so we can help the home­less and their an­i­mals keep warm, safe and fed.”

PIERRE OBENDRaUF

Sara Capo­bianco, left, and sis­ter Sa­man­tha pre­pare bags of sup­plies to dis­trib­ute to the home­less and their dogs on Satur­day.

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