Yuletide pets 

An online fundraiser with a heartwarming finale.

By Wendy Rose Gould

The holidays are already one of the most wonderful times of the year. Throw in a fun contest asking people to submit photos of their adorable pets dressed for the season and things get even jollier. Think fluffy pups sporting Santa costumes and reindeer antlers and sweet kitties donning elf hats and candy-striped bow ties.  

That’s exactly what the Kiwanis Club of Metropolitan, Panama City, Panama, opted to do as an end-of-year online fundraiser in 2021. Not only did the “Mi Mascota en Navidad” contest help spread some good old-fashioned holiday cheer, but it allowed the club to extend its outreach via 1,000 new followers on Instagram while also raising money for child- and pet-related charities. 

“People had a lot of fun and were able to display creativity dressing their pets. Those who didn’t have a pet could laugh a lot viewing the pictures,” says Lanny Lowe, the club’s public relations director. “It was very gratifying to receive the support of many people who, despite their religion or economic status, wanted to donate.” 

The club accepted submissions December 1-15 and requested a 15 Panamanian Balboa (PAB) donation fee from participants. Each was also asked to invite three other individuals to share their own photos and to have friends and family vote for their pet. The photograph with the highest number of “likes” would win a PAB100 cash gift, followed by a second-place winner earning 75 and a third-place winner receiving 50.  

In total, the club received 38 entries and raised PAB570. After paying the winners, half of the funds went toward the purchase of food for rescue dogs, and the other half was donated to Kiwanis’ Read Around the World program.  

The heartwarming finale doesn’t stop there, though. The owner of the winning pet — a long-haired black rabbit dressed in red and green gingerbread-themed pajamas — used his PAB100 prize to buy toys for patients at a local children’s hospital. The club excitedly delivered the donation on Three Kings Day.   

It all shows that sometimes it’s the modest gestures — and the fluffiest pets in holiday apparel — that truly help to make the season bright.  

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