Leia Kett (as in Star War’s Princess Leia) has been a Barriere resident for a year.
“I got out of the Lower Mainland right when COVID hit,” tells Kett, “I listed my place and sold it, and then COVID hit.”
Kett is the go to person for a new enterprise in the area, the Barriere Four Paws Food Bank, which is a registered non-profit group that is a satellite of the Four Paws Food Bank Foundation in Kamloops.
“They are a registered charity, and we are a link from them,” said Kett, “We don’t have all the services that Four Paws does. All we do is provide the pet food and pet supplies for everything like dogs, cats, guinea pigs, reptiles, fish. All the supplies and food that you would need for them. It’s the same idea as a food bank only for pets. We provide all the way from Heffley Creek to Clearwater.”
She notes that Four Paws is trying to help take the pressure off the rescues so they don’t have to store everything, and also the Food Bank having to store for people and also for pets.
“If they have somebody that is in need we will be able to look after it,” say Kett, “We also are having two days a month where somebody can come and pick up pet food or drop off donations.
“We have locations in Barriere where people can drop off any day of the week. Then we have the two days a week where anyone spanning from Heffley Creek to Clearwater can come and pick up, or anyone can drop off on those days as well.”
She advises that the Barriere Community Hall, where the Barriere Lions Club is based, was the launch of their first day on June 9, for regular pick up and drop offs. These days will be held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month in the parking lot at the Barriere Lions Hall from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. for pickup and drop offs.
“We are also going to be attending the Barriere Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. If people happen to be out and about at the Farmer’s Market they can drop off pet food or other items, or drop a donation into the change jar. All of the donations collected in the Barriere Four Paws Food Bank area will stay to help those in that area,” says Kett.
Other drop places in the community include Marlene at Barriere Royal LePage, the Barriere Chamber Office, Pets R Family 2, and Armour Mountain Office Services.
“When the drop places have donations they just call me and I will run over and pick it up so they don’t have to have it sitting there and piling up in their office.”
Kett says right now she is the one doing most of the work for the Barriere organization, “Plus Chris from Cam K9 helps me out, and Nikki from Four Paws Kamloops. For the most part it’s just me doing a lot of the running around.
“People at the Eco Depot are helping us out with some donations, Armour Mountain Office Services help by printing out our paper work, and then everyone who takes the donations at drop off points help us as well.”
Does she know many peoplethey have to service in the community, or are they just starting to get that information?
“We did a survey right before Christmas and we had about 15 people who said they would for sure need the service. And we had a few others that said they probably knew people that would need the service, but we don’t know if that was part of the 15 people. Of course the Food Bank know a lot of people, and we found a lot of people responded by saying the Food Bank was not able to really provide enough to help their pets. A big problem with the Food Bank is they want to be able to help but they do not have enough room to be able to store the pet food, so that’s where we want to be able to take the pressure off and be able to help the community more.”
Asked if she has any pets of her own, Kett says she has three dogs, two cats, four fish tanks and a gecko lizard.
“Yes, I’ve got my own little zoo,” she says with a laugh.
How did she get involved with Four Paws?
“I actually went through some time at Christmas when I had to financially help my dad, and then I needed some help myself as I wasn’t working at the time. I got stuck in a bad situation one month where I needed help to get a bag of dog food for my dogs and Four Paws in Kamloops helped me out.
“Then we got talking about how so many people get stuck and how hard it is for some to get to Kamloops, especially in the winter time when they need help to feed their pets. And especially when COVID hit and people lost their jobs, and many had to foster their dogs out because they just couldn’t afford to feed them.
“They were faced with you feed your dogs or you feed yourself and the kids. Or they just can’t quite make that next pay cheque – they get stuck in between. Or when the fires hit. If that ever happened again it would be nice to have Four Paws service out here.”
Kett says the discussion eventually moved into taking action and “putting it all together.
“One of our biggest hurdles was figuring out how we could get donations in a rural area. That’s when we put out the survey to see if the people in the community would be able to help us out and how many people would need the service, and if they would even want or need the service. It pulled enough interest in so we thought “let’s give it a go and see what we can do”, and we’ve gotten a great response so far.”