Haley Armstrong, 17, of Norman, Okla., a home-schooled high school junior and a member of the Cleveland County 4-H, initiated an ongoing collection campaign to provide dog and cat food to 150 Meals on Wheels recipients in three towns, so they would not have to split their meals with their pets. The project was born when Haley heard that some clients of Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to the homes of senior citizens in need, feed a portion of their food to their pets because they cannot afford pet food. "It is important for them to keep their animals because many are homebound, or they live alone," said Haley. "As an animal lover myself, I understand the impact and importance pets have."
Haley recruited her 4-H club to help her solicit donations from dog clubs, pet food companies and local businesses. But when that didn't produce enough, they planned several fund-raisers, obtained a grant, won the support of a local veterinarian, and launched a communitywide pet-food drive. Over the past three years, Haley and her fellow 4-H members have collected at least 21,000 pounds of pet food as well as $8,000 to buy more. The number of Meals on Wheels clients receiving pet food has grown from 60 to 150, and the program has expanded beyond Norman to two nearby towns. In addition, Haley has assisted other 4-H clubs in starting similar programs in their areas.