America Sailors Volunteer with PAWS
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA6) assisted a local, non-profit animal support group during a community outreach project in San Diego, June 11.

Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), an all-volunteer run program associated with the San Diego Humane Society, helps low-income pet owners who are chronically ill, disabled or seniors.

During the event, America Sailors helped package pet food and cat litter for distribution and loaded them onto pallets for PAWS volunteers to transport.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class James Hallford, event coordinator aboard America, created the volunteer event and said he has hopes of furthering America's involvement with PAWS.

"The work was fun," Hallford said. "There was good team work, and everyone was motivated. We are making a difference by helping people keep their pets."

Distributing pet food is just one charitable act PAWS supports. It also assists pet owners with veterinarian bills and procuring pet supplies such as shampoo.

According to the San Diego Humane Society's website, the program is designed to be a "safety net" for San Diego residents and their pets by providing the resources needed to keep pets out of shelters and in their homes.

PAWS pantry specialist Douglas Quinn said, "There are only four staff members working at this branch. What keeps us running is the beautiful amount of volunteers that come in."

Starting as a volunteer himself, Quinn has been working at PAWS for the past four years and is heavily involved with all parts of the supply distribution process.

"A lot of people have pets because they enjoy coming home to someone who depends on them -- someone that will be there without judgment," said Quinn. "We want to help pets stay in their homes."

Over the past year, PAWS has had more than 255 active volunteers, and America's crew plans to add to those numbers.

"It's great seeing that there are volunteer opportunities like this that I can relate to," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tiffany Parson, an America Sailor who volunteered at the event. "As a pet owner, I can appreciate the impact organizations like this can make."
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