Pet Pantry in Blackwood celebrates its first year

Homeward Bound adoption center partners include Amazon

Homeward Bound Volunteers open the Pet Pantry every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and help community members in need.

The Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center in Blackwood celebrated the one-year anniversary of its community pet pantry on May 14.

It all started in 2019, when the Amazon warehouse in Swedesboro began to have issues with  rising waste management costs after throwing away excess inventory. When the warehouse’s waste coordinator, Jason Falco, noticed tons of pet food and pet-related items were being thrown away, he decided there was something he could do to help both the warehouse and the community. 

“Sometimes a bag is ripped, a box is dented; sometimes the company changes the label and they won’t allow you to sell it anymore.  Sometimes the expiration dates are coming close,” said Homeward Bound Executive Director Jill Rawlins. “Now we get all the food and supplies and go and pick it up from the warehouse.”

A partnership was created with executives at the Amazon warehouse, Camden County Commissioner Jonathan Young Sr. and Homeward Bound that allowed any viable items being discarded by the warehouse to be donated to the adoption center. The donations led to a large pet pantry built by the county at Homeward Bound. 

“Over the course of the past year they have given us over 100,000 pounds of dog food, cat food, cat litter and treats to the tune of $200,000 in value,” said Rawlins. “We want to make sure we celebrate that.”

The pantry has been open to the public every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donated items there are available to anyone in need of pet supplies. There is no registration or signup;  participants just show up and open their trunks. According to Rawlins, the pantry helps 50 to 80 people each weekend. It also plans an event for trap and release organizations across South Jersey.

“Right now, Amazon has 25,000 pounds of dry cat food that we are going to be slowly bringing over here,” Rawlins explained. “All of the trap and release organizations go and trap the cats and bring them here; we spay and neuter and give them back. They do continue to watch over them, so we invited them to take this food and put it out into the community.”

The trap and release organizations are currently in full swing for the start of kitten season, and Homeward Bound is seeking volunteers to foster and adopt the many kittens it’s received.

For more information, visit https://homewardboundnj.org.