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Man's Legs Severed by Train

Comfort Campaign for Shelter Animals Starts in Plymouth Meeting

The fast-growing Huggies Project is collecting towels, newspapers and blankets to provide a little creature comfort for animals in shelters.

Handsome Hector, an inquisitive-looking Tabby cat, was very much loved for 13 years.

Lisa Kalisperis-Benjamin, who adopted the kitten Hector when she attended Cabrini College, recalled how the previous owners had locked him in a closet for long periods of time, because they could not successfully litter-train him.

She said it was not a hard decision to give Handsome Hector a “forever home.”

“I always wanted a cat,” she said.

By August 2012, Kalisperis-Benjamin lived in Jeffersonville with her husband. Living with them were five rescued animals: two dogs and three cats, including Handsome Hector’s sister Wiggles.

However, also by that time, Hector became gravely ill.

“It was all kinds of awful things,” she said. “We took him to vet to vet to vet, but we couldn’t save him. It was heartbreaking.”


The Huggies Project, In Honor of Handsome Hector

After Hector’s passing, Kalisperis-Benjamin was looking for solace, and found herself wanting to help other rescue animals just like Hector.

On Aug. 15, she started “The Huggies Project, In honor of Handsome Hector” Facebook page. On the “about” section of the Facebook page, the public is encouraged to donate clean towels, blankets and newspapers, describing such donations as “a hug for homeless shelter animals.”

Prior to the page launch, Kalisperis-Benjamin reached out to the Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties SPCAs, as well as the Kitty Cottage Adoption Center. She called and visited such shelters in person, asking what was needed.

She said that she focused on the towels, blankets and newspapers, because they were accessible as donations and inexpensive.

“They’re something people will have around the house,” she said.

She added that the donated items provide a certain level of comfort for animals in shelters, where all they can do is wait.

“The poor animals that are there, are there for such a short time,” she said. “Either they get a home or are put to sleep.”


Huggies Project Drop-Off Locations

The public may give donations at a Huggies Project drop-off location.

Working as the marketing director for Plymouth Auto and Tire Center, Kalisperis Benjamin used her community connections and reached out to local businesses and organizations for partnership with the Huggies Project.

The first business to sign up was the Plymouth Auto and Tire center itself, located at 2014 Butler Pike in Plymouth Meeting.

“They were very supportive and wanted to honor Hector’s memory by taking care of other rescues,” Kalisperis-Benjamin said.

In less than five months, the Huggies Project had successfully partnered with the following businesses or organizations as drop-off locations:

  • St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, 35 N. Malin Road in Broomall
  • Halliday Florist, 29 S. Church St. in West Chester
  • Menchie's, 2953 Swede Road in East Norriton

While she said she is very grateful for the public support of the Huggies Project, she is often surprised by how much generosity can be mustered for potential pets in need of rescue.

“I was hoping, but I was not expecting it,” Kalisperis said. “There’s no way to go to a shelter and not become emotional.”

Kalisperis-Benjamin emphasized that the Huggies Project does not have a nonprofit status, and only accepts what’s needed for the participating animal shelters. The Huggies Project does not accept monetary donations of any kind. In fact, with the help of her husband and family, she manages the entire project on her personal time.

She said she visits the drop-off locations at least once a week, organizes the donations at a family member’s home, then provides the donations to the shelter in need that week.

“We always appreciate what she brings in,” Joe Gould, who works in the Montgomery County SPCA adoption office, said.

Gould, who has worked for the SPCA for the last two years but speaking for himself, said that individuals often bring in donations.  However, the Huggies Project would be a first in his professional recollection that an individual has organized such a campaign for his and other local shelters.

“I think she should continue what she’s doing,” Gould said. “She’s doing a great job.”

For more information, visit The Huggies Project Facebook Page or contact Lisa Kalisperis-Benjamin at the Plymouth Meeting Auto Repair at 610-825-6558.

Lisa Kalisperis January 29, 2013 at 08:49 PM
These animals are sitting on death row waiting for someone to either pardon them and give them a forever home or to be put to sleep. They are scared, they are heart broken, they are in pain. If just one person who reads this article finds just one towel or blanket or "huggie" for them I know it would make Hector, who is no longer in pain and is in heaven watching us all, smile.- Thank you to Gerry for taking an interest and surprising me with this article. I keep you all in my heart! - Lisa Kalisperis- Benjamin (Hector's mommy, project founder)
SAC February 01, 2013 at 02:08 AM
Nice job Lisa...... very proud of you and your efforts! Our 2 cats, Bella & Gia, were rescued so I understand your compassion for the animals!
Barbara Kindon February 02, 2013 at 12:32 AM
I too am proudly owned by 2 cats - I wish, however, that these out pourings of love and support went to our fellow humans first - there are many that struggle daily, anxious about the ability to feed themselves, their families.... bills too high to see over......... scared, heart broken and in pain - waiting, praying for someone to give US a break - just my thoughts..... sorry Lisa, don't mean to 'rain on your parade' - just my thoughts.
Lisa Kalisperis February 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Thank you SAG! Give extra hugs and kisses to Bella and Gia
Lisa Kalisperis February 26, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Well Barbara as I've said to you in the past I will do everything I can for you within the limits of my job capacity. Thanks for taking the timeout to read about my personal volunteer efforts for my choice of causes though.
Stephanie S. March 15, 2013 at 08:21 AM
Dearest Lisa, Thanks for the great service you paid to me when i had my vehicle inspected recently. I was exhausted from my third shift job, but made it in that January morning. I'm so glad that i did , because i noticed your Charit - for animal care , which runs deep in my heart as well. There isn't any other cause more deserving of love and care , than these and ALL animals, who are least among us. These creatures have no voices to ask for our help, but only hope that we see them . Unlike, humans, animals come into the world innocent and go out innocent . They are our God given companions , whose duty it is for us to give our compassion.
Stephanie S. March 15, 2013 at 08:30 AM
Dear Lisa, I have forwarded your Huggies Project on to my social group , who have agreed to post it as a fund raiser by pairing it with an event. As soon as i learn more , i will post it here. I will bring all donations directly to The Plymouth Auto Center . Thanks again , for you are doing a great thing for these deserving dogs and cats : )


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