Calendar fundraiser celebrates felines

January 10, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Susan Bunch, an employee at Microsoft’s Issaquah campus, loves animals. Her current family includes two rescued cats, a horse and a dog. But Bunch admits there’s a soft spot in her heart for cats.

“Pets bring so much to our lives, and cats in particular are unfortunately overlooked sometimes as an almost disposable pet,” she said. “They deserve so much more.”

In 2009, Bunch along with fellow Microsoft employees Karen Easterbrook and Kristi Minietta began the yearly creation of the Cats of Microsoft calendar benefiting the Forget Me Not Animal Shelter.

Every year, Microsoft employees are encouraged to donate to the shelter located on the eastern side of the state in Ferry County. In return for their contributions, Bunch puts together a calendar featuring cats that belong to the many generous donors.

Last year, the calendar raised $60,000 for Forget Me Not. Bunch hopes the calendar will continue to be a successful source of funds for the shelter.

“I’d be thrilled to raise that much again, but no matter how much we make I am always really grateful for the donations we get,” she said. “Good work is always done with the funds.”

Forget Me Not relies on volunteers and receives no government funding, according to Kim Gillen, the shelter’s executive director. So, she really appreciates the funds raised by this Microsoft campaign.

“Forget Me Not Animal Shelter is the only animal shelter in Ferry County, Washington, which is an area roughly the size of Delaware,” Gillen said. “We rely on donations and grants for our annual funding needs.”

One of the shelter’s primary services includes the Happy Homes Adoption Program that serves the entire Northwest.

“We accept stray, impounded and owner-surrendered cats and dogs, spay and neuter, vaccinate and microchip them all, and find them new adoptive homes,” Gillen said. “About 85 percent of our adoptions are outside Ferry County. We have monthly deliveries of adopted pets to the Seattle and Spokane areas, and we have adopted pets to families from California to Montana to Alaska.”

The Cats of Microsoft calendar is part of the Microsoft Giving Campaign. The campaign encourages employees to give back to their communities and support nonprofit organizations, according to the company’s website.

Bunch is proud to contribute to the company’s campaign.

“I am very passionate about Microsoft’s Giving Campaign and all the effort our company puts into making it a success so charities can benefit,” she said.

Bunch encourages everyone to give back, and to remember animals when doing so.

“I think there are a lot of people who still don’t realize that they can donate to charities that benefit animals,” she said. “I have always believed that no matter who you are, you have something to give. Whether you donate money or items or time, it all adds up.”

Most of the calendars are bought up by the Microsoft employees. This years’ calendar was expected to be ready by mid-December. If there are any left, the shelter sells a few online at www.forgetmenotshelter.org.

Christina Corrales-Toy is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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