With help of family and a local librarian, middle-school student turns her vision into a reality
When avid reader Gianna Lundy-Garefino read in a news article that pets were being abandoned at shelters because their owners could not afford to care for them during the pandemic, she knew she wanted to help.
She dreamed up The Pet Pantry, and now a few more pets are safe and secure in their own homes.
The Kennesaw middle schooler knew exactly who she could ask to help turn her vision into reality: Kemp Memorial Library's Children's Librarian Kristina Canoles-Steenhoek, also the supervisor for the library's Homeless Pet Club, which serves at-risk pets in shelters.
"We were really excited she wanted to do the project," says Kristina.
With the location nailed down, Gianna asked her grandfather for help with the actual nailing.
"I started the pantry over the summer at my grandparents' house," Gianna says. "My Nonno works with wood. We looked at one of the cabinets in their house, and we got ideas online."
With construction complete, The Pet Pantry was placed in the entryway of the library and initially stocked with supplies by Gianna and her family.
And Gianna made a sign: "Take what you need. Leave what you can."
"People put donations directly in it," says Kristina. "I check it every day. It's always different. We haven't had to supplement. People in this area are really good at giving."
In addition to helping local pets, the project earned Gianna a Girl Scouts Silver Award, bestowed upon middle school scouts who make a lasting difference in their communities.
Kristina believes The Pet Pantry has indeed had an effect. "I know it helps," says the librarian. "It keeps pets out of shelters and in their homes."
And Gianna is already thinking about how she can help her community when it comes time to work on her Girl Scout Gold Award in high school.
"I'll probably do something else with pets," says Gianna, the owner of cats, fish and hermit crabs. "That or something about the environment."
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