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Today—Nov. 16, 2010—is Give to the Max Day. Donate to your favorite nonprofit and your funds will be matched! GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!!! Because I pledge to donate $2 from each copy of my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” I sell online and in person to several animal-related charities, I save it all up and donate today to double my donations to The Wildcat Sanctuary, Pet Haven, Small Dog Rescue of MN, Animal Ark, Feline Rescue and The Pet Project (actually, I just threw in that last one because I wanted to support it, too). Pick your own favorite nonprofit organization and pledge what you can. Please do it NOW!!—Sid

Big idea of the day: Creative FUNdraisers can involve kids.
Anybody old enough to remember Muscular Dystrophy Carnivals? I hosted some in my backyard to raise money for “Jerry’s Kids” back in the 1960s!Why not host your own retro-style carnival? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. And you can charge people one entry fee (in dollars or pet food/toys/litter, etc.), or you can have them buy tickets to use at your “booths.”
THE DUCK POND: I remember we set up a wading pool with water and floated plastic ducks with numbers on their bellies and had little kids use a pole to “fish” out their duck for a prize (something small like a piece of candy or trinket from a multi-pack of toys at a dollar store will do) corresponding to the number.
CAKE WALK: We baked cookies, pies, muffins, and cakes and laid out numbers on sheets of paper in a circle on the grass (weighted with rock so they wouldn’t blow away) and had people walk around as music (the Jackson 5, as I recall, was a favorite) played (on a portable 8-track player) and when it stopped, participants froze at the number they were at. Someone in charge drew a number from a hat and whoever was on the corresponding number on the ground won his/her choice of the baked goods.
SPORTS: We played competitive bocce games, badminton, volleyball, kickball, etc. Go with whatever games you think will appeal to the kids’ age range in your neighborhood.
SCAVENGER HUNT: Send kids out in teams to locate a list of oddball items. Instead of going into strangers’ homes, however, you can make the list be unique, readily identifiable items on the houses themselves or in the front yards of houses on your block. Just have the teams find the items listed and record the address where they spotted it in order to get credit. For instance, you could have written “A pair of concrete lions” and they’d jot the number of the house where these sat out alongside the front steps in a blank next to it. You get the idea. They’re still having to hunt, but there will be no lugging back the items or involving neighbors who value their privacy. The team that gets the most items correctly noted in an allotted amount of time wins.
TALENT SHOW: Get everyone involved displaying their virtuosity on the harmonica, magic acts, song-and-dance routines, puppet shows, outstanding stupid human tricks, etc.
Why have I taken you on this sentimental journey into my fund-raising past? I want to urge you and/or your kids/students/younger relatives/neighbors organize to host a backyard (or National Night Out Block Club) carnival for all their friends—with a wide variety of games, relays, contests, cake walks, lemonade stands, etc.—to raise $$ and/or pet food donations for The Pet Project! All donations go to providing pet food and products to families in need through local food shelves. Help people keep their beloved animal friends with them throughout this recession and other unforeseen life changes such as the owners’ illness or disability. Shelters and rescues are flooding over with pets who, while not neglected or abused, are being surrendered by anguished owners who can’t afford their upkeep.

Kids are often passionate about pets. Why not nurture their generosity and creativity and get them involved in this worthy cause—and have a FUNtabluous time, too? Please, please, please send me any photos or stories of your fund-raising efforts for the Pet Project and I’ll post about it here and on my Facebook Fan Page! Heck, send in a video of your event to fellow animal-lover Ellen Degeneres and get a national trend going! —Sid

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The Pet Project is designed to help people keep their pets by offering food to those who are struggling. The Pet Project is working to expand these services to include assistance in finding housing with a pet and basic veterinary care.

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