Helping Hands: Teen Helps Families Feed Their Pets During Pandemic

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Alyssa Gold is just a teenager, but she’s helping during this pandemic in a big way. The longtime animal lover is assisting families who have been hit financially by COVID-19 by helping them feed their pets.

“So many people are talking about how it’s affecting them," she said. "I was like,  this is affecting animals too, because if people can’t pay for their own food, how can they support their animals?" 

Through Ally's Animal Project, people can request the pet food they need. Her reach spans across the United States. She started her initiative of helping animals a few years ago after fostering a dog named Bruno who was hit by a car and injured.

"I raised money for him to have the surgery and I found his forever home in New Jersey," Alyssa said, "I thought, how else could I help other animals?"

That’s when she first started making bracelets with encouraging messages and donating them to animal shelters and veterinarians to give to people who just lost their animals.

During the pandemic, she saw an opportunity to pivot and raise money by selling them and to meet the growing demand for pet food.

Alyssa makes the bracelets by hand that are priced between $5 and $20. The profits go to her COVID financial relief effort. On the website, people can fill out a short survey and let her know what food they need for their pet and she will ship it to them.

“I’m proud of myself," she said. "I know that I’m helping so many people ... over 100 families so far."

Ally’s mom is the helper behind the scenes. She understands her daughter’s passion.

“She’s been an animal lover her entire life," said her mother, Lisa Leveson. "With this pandemic – I think people are realizing how much they rely on animals for their support and companionship – to get through this difficult time.”

The family dog Bandit is doing just that right now for this household. Even though finances are not an issue for them right now, the family just experienced a loss during this already emotionally challenging time.

"We lost a pet from cancer," Leveson said. "It was honestly one of the most devastating experiences our family has gone through. Our dog Oreo was our friend and protector … to think not being able to provide for her or our other dog bandit, it’s heart wrenching."

And so they are doing what they can to help families keep their healthy pets fed.

"A lot of people have said, 'Thank you so much,'" Alyssa said. "(That) I am really saving their animals because they can’t afford the food – they would have surrendered them otherwise."

If you would like to donate or buy a bracelet and help support this initiative, you can visit the website. If you need help with pet food, you can find it there too. 

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