ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like animals and those who love them. Julianne Butler is definitely the latter.
When she stumbled upon Colorado Pet Pantry eight years ago, it was a natural fit for her to volunteer.
“I love pets, but going and volunteering at like a shelter or something like that — I was too afraid I’d come home with too many all the time. So this was a way for me to give back and help those people that have pets,” Butler said.
The nonprofit helps financially strapped families with food and pet supplies so they aren’t forced to make the heartbreaking decision to surrender their pets. Butler was the first volunteer to sign up for the nonprofit.
“She volunteered with us for about four months and she said, ‘Hey, I’d really like to do this in my own community,’ which is near Jewish Family service in southeast Denver,” said Colorado Pet Pantry Founder Eileen Lambert. “I said, let’s do it.”
Each week, Butler makes the rounds to places like Chuck and Don’s Pet Food & Supplies to pick up food, leashes and donations. For people struggling to get by, those donations mean everything.
“I see people — they would come to the food bank and they would cry because they were struggling so much to feed their pets and we’re handing them really good bags of food and toys and collars or leashes or beds,” Butler said.
Today, Colorado Pet Pantry has 102 food bank locations statewide. Last year, it provided families with 5.1 million meals thanks to everyday heroes like Butler.
“Our volunteers are the ones that are out there doing the food banks, talking to our clients, creating these relationships, spreading the good word, and they’re the ones that do so much of the legwork to make this all happen,” Lambert said.