Maggie Franz has a big dream for shelter dogs.
“I’ve been looking for something that pulls at my heartstrings, something that I’m passionate enough about to do something,” says Franz, 27, of Gibsonia. “I don’t have the money to go out and make a difference, but I have the time and the talent.”
Now she has found that “something,” and she is dedicating her time and talent to make her dream a reality.
Franz works for NCS Services, a company that provides an online donation platform for various charities. Tasked with researching local animal shelters, she was overwhelmed by the animals’ heartbreaking stories and knew she had to do something.
She knew she wanted to help the animal shelters, but she didn’t want to create a charity that was going to compete with other organizations for the same dollars. The shelters all have the same needs for cleaning solutions, food and the like. But Franz noticed one need that was not being filled — and that was sweaters and blankets for the animals.
“They take the dogs outside to play and to the dog park,” she says. “But the thing is, if we can get cold, they can get cold, too. I thought, ‘I’m a knitter, why don’t I take my yarn stash and start making sweaters.’”
And Fibers for Fido was born.
So far, Franz has knitted six sweaters, but the work is slow going. “I realize I can’t do this myself,” she says.
Franz has started a website, fibersforfido.org, where the motto is “Uplifting animal charities one sweater at a time.” She is reaching out to local businesses, pet stores, doggy day care centers and crafts stores to host “donation stations” and help get the word out to their customers.
She also is seeking donations of supplies or finished products. Volunteers who can knit, crochet or sew are needed to make sweaters, jackets or fleece blankets.
Petrageous Designs, an online pet-supply retailer, has donated seven designer dog jackets through Fibers for Fido to the Chester County SPCA. Franz is hoping to find more corporate donors.
Fibers for Fido has established partnerships with six animal shelters so far to provide donations of sweaters and blankets. These include the Butler County Humane Society, Strayhaven Animal Shelter in Greenville and several in eastern Pennsylvania.
Shelters that sign up to be partners will have their name and link to their website placed on the Fibers for Fido website and will receive donations. All animal shelters in the area are eligible to sign up.
While the main focus of Fibers for Fido is warmth, the charity will accept donations of cleaning supplies, pet food, puppy pads, etc. The goal is to be “not just another charity, (but) a charitable organization dedicated to meeting the needs of others through donations, networking, raising awareness and communication.”
Franz also is sponsoring a Christmas tree in the Pine Township Community Center. Throughout December, they are asking people to pick their favorite tree in the center, and the winner will have a donation made to their favorite charity. Franz has selected the Butler County Humane Society.
The Humane Society has an anonymous donor who will match every donation up to $25,000.
“They’re going crazy and are all excited,” Franz says.
Franz’s dream for Fibers for Fido is for it to become a tax-exempt organization, and she is hoping to find an attorney or nonprofit specialist who can help with the application on a pro-bono basis.
Asked where she would like to see Fibers for Fido in 10 years, Franz says she would like to see two things: “I’d love to have the ability to continue supporting shelters in our area, while reaching out nationally. I would also like to have an online store for the website where people would be able to make and sell their crafts, and donate the proceeds.”
Franz lives in the Treesdale area with her parents, her American black Labrador retriever, Murphy, and a green-cheeked conure (a type of parrot), Buddha.
Pam Murphy is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.