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Businesswomen taking donations for AniMEALS, helping seniors with pets

Staff report

Local businesswomen Lorna Medinger of Hughes Plumbing Supply, Debbie Barnhardt of Barnhardt Jewelers in Spencer and Kimberly Hardiman of Hardiman Design are animal lovers.

After learning that Meals on Wheels provided pet food to homebound seniors with companion animals, Hardiman reached out to the other two women.

“We can support this effort, and we need to go big,” Hardiman told Medinger and Barnhardt. “Can you imagine sitting at home alone all day? These seniors who have pet companions need our help.”

Together, they decided to encourage donations to the AniMEALS program, through which Meals on Wheels delivers donated pet food to clients in small, manageable quantities.

For the month of August, Hughes Supply at 531 S. Main St., Salisbury, and Barnhardt Jewelers at 314 S. Salisbury Ave., Spencer, are asking people to drop off donations of pet food for AniMEALS.

Donations at Hughes Supply will be taken from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Hughes Plumbing Supply has a showroom with 10 tubs on display, waiting to be filled with pet food.

Donations at Barnhardt Jewelers will be accepted 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. The women moved an available tub to Barnhardt Jewelers to accept pet food.

Hardiman said she works with many contractors and subcontractors in her job and has encouraged all of them to contribute pet food or money for the project.

Medinger contacted Cindy Fink, executive director of Meals on Wheels Rowan, to discuss the women’s ideas.

“Cindy explained that Meals on Wheels only uses donated pet foods and treats to distribute to homebound seniors,” Medinger said. “As she said, their primary mission is to feed homebound seniors a nutritious meal.

“But she added that Meals on Wheels Rowan believes that companion animals are very important to seniors, and it is often difficult for these seniors to grocery shop or to get heavy bags or cans of pet food into their homes.

“She also said, ‘We don’t want our seniors to feed half of their meal to their animals, because they feel guilty that they don’t have any pet food at home.’”

Overall, seniors with pets report loneliness less often and make fewer doctor visits than nonpet owners, according to the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

After learning about AniMEALS, Barnhardt said she and her poodle, Abby, wanted to do something for the community.

On Barnhardt Jewelers’ Facebook page, Abby is featured in a tub filled with donated pet food. She’s wearing pearls. The photo was shot at Hughes Plumbing Supply.