VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. - Danielle Scala-Nathan started Paw It Forward Pet Pantry with her husband Rob five years ago. Rob died from COVID-19 in April, just a few days after their 15th wedding anniversary. Danielle, 41, has vowed to continue the charity in his memory.
"He always said, 'This way my baby, this is what I wanted,' he would want me to do it," she said. "I do it because I want to. It keeps me going every day."
She converted the basement of her Valley Stream home into a pet pantry and started Paw It Forward to help pet owners affected by hurricanes in the South. But soon after she realized local neighbors are in dire need of help, too.
"We give away wet dog food, wet cat food, dry food, leashes, collars, beds, prescription dog food, cat litter, treats, toys," Danielle said.
Danielle also suddenly lost her mom in September. Although it wasn't COVID-related, she said losing two loved ones in just six months has motivated her to continue helping those during this time.
"This helps me get on every day knowing they're both watching over me and I'm doing something good," she said.
Paw It Forward works with pet stores, veterinarians and relies directly on the community for donations. However, Danielle said the pantry is at its lowest supply since she started. She hopes those who have taken in the past will one day be able to help in return.
"She listens to people that don't want to get rid of their pets but have no alternative, she helps them," said volunteer Leonora Facciponti.
And as long as there are donations, Danielle promises to keep "pawing" it forward.
"It makes me happy knowing the pet owners are able to feed their pets," she said. "I'm going to continue doing it."
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