Virginia nonprofit helping furloughed workers feed their pets

    Winston Wishes Facebook Page

    NORFOLK, Va. (WSET) -- Federal workers across the country are trying to find ways to pinch pennies as the government shutdown stretches on, which can sometimes include deciding to buy or not buy pet food.

    Taking care of pets might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about the government shutdown, and for workers who are trying to save money anywhere they can, pet food can get pushed down on the priority list.

    Winston Wishes, a nonprofit pet food pantry in Norfolk is stepping up, providing over 1,000 pounds of pet food to people who need it.

    "We have a little bit of everything," said Heidi Watkins, founder of Winston Wishes.

    Watkins founded the nonprofit back in 2017 in honor of her cat, Winston.

    He was given a second chance at life because of the donations of strangers, so Winston Wishes is Watkin's way of paying it forward.

    "It's unbelievable how people rally together," Watkins said. "You may not agree and have the same philosophies and ideas about life, but everybody loves their pets."

    The nonprofit gives out food and supplies to anyone who is in need because the cost of food adds up quick.

    They are worried that the shutdown will force people to start making hard choices about who gets to eat and they don't want people to have to worry about their pets.

    "We don't want you to have to decide. Even if it's just one bag of food, that's one less bill that you have to worry about, one less expense that you have to worry about," Watkins said.

    They have helped 40 people nationwide since January 11.

    Watkins says their goal is to make sure people are stocked up on what they need because no one knows what's going to happen next.

    One thing that is clear is that groups are stepping up to help their neighbors, whether they have two legs or four.

    If you need pet food you can reach out to Winston Wishes through Facebook or their website. You can also donate food and supplies.

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