By Jason A. Smith
Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children's Care Home has reached its goal of raising $100,000, to pave areas of its habitat. In a separate venture, a group of local children is collecting items to make a donation of its own.
Diane Smith, the assistant to Noah's Ark Director Jama Hedgecoth, said the Ark, in April, received $50,000 from an anonymous donor to help with the paving project.
"A suggestion was made by the donor that we make a matching-gift challenge, in order that some of the habitat could be extended," Smith said.
The shelter, she added, issued a challenge to the community on April 29, to generate the $50,000 needed to match the anonymous donation. Residents and businesses, according to Smith, responded to the challenge by donating the money in "record time," enabling the Ark to meet its goal, as of Tuesday.
Noah's Ark houses a total of 1,200 animals, approximately 100 of which are kept in the habitat area. The facility also serves as a haven for abused and neglected children.
Smith said the funds will allow for eight animal habitats to be extended this summer, giving the animals access to a creek as a natural water source. Smith said the success of the donation drive can be seen as a reward to the group's staff for making a conscious effort to handle the organization's money wisely.
"[The paving project] is something we've wanted to do for some time," she said. "We just haven't had funding to move forward. We don't move forward on anything unless we have funding in place for it. We virtually don't go into debt for anything. For a donor to approach us and make this kind of offer, is pretty exciting to us."
Hedgecoth said although the paving project has been planned for a long time, she had to wait to bring it to fruition. Still, she credits divine intervention, with allowing her facility to obtain the necessary funds.
"The funding came through right when it was supposed to," Hedgecoth said. "Now, we'll have beautiful new trails for everyone to enjoy. And as a bonus, many of our animals will enjoy larger habitats and be able to enjoy the creek that now runs behind their habitats. It's all in God's time."
Kids at Lake Dow Children's Academy in McDonough, this week, began a charity drive to benefit Noah's Ark. Children, ages 9-12, are collecting "gently used" clothing, as well as non-perishable food items, for kids at the shelter through the month of June, according to Selena Groce, summer camp teacher at the academy.
"We're collecting [items] for children of any age group," said Groce. "I thought it was a good way for the kids to reach out to other kids ... and to learn about sacrifice and humility."
Groce added that she hopes to use her students' interest in animals at Noah's Ark, as a springboard to teach them about children in need. Her goal, she said, is to raise $400 through the drive, in addition to generating donations of food, clothing and toys.
For more details on Lake Dow Children's Academy's donation drive, call (770) 957-7647, or FAX (770) 898-8340. For details on Noah's Ark, call (770) 957-0888, or visit www.noahs-ark.org.