Two women with arms around each other stare at blue pop-up with FOLBA on it.
Lauren Campbell, Friends of Long Beach Animals board president, watches action with her daughter, also named Lauren. Photo by Tom Hanberg.

During the afternoon of Saturday, June 20, one of Long Beach’s most venerable and openhearted animal-welfare nonprofits reached out to people whose cupboards might be bare because of the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic on their wallets. Friends of Long Beach Animals didn’t set out to simply give everyone’s poor dog a bone. They had nine tons—yes, nine tons!—of food to give away for free to LBC cats and dogs.

The organization had originally scheduled the event for June 6 at the Arts Expo Center in Bixby Knolls but had to postpone it because of the ongoing protests. The administrators of the Long Beach Masonic Center, also in Bixby Knolls, enthusiastically agreed to give over their parking lot to the volunteers and the staggering numbers of bags, cans and boxes of pet food donated by the ASPCA, Fix Long Beach, Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies and generous members of the community. Feline-rescue nonprofit Helen Sanders CatPAWS donated gift cards that will buy, of course, more food.

bags and bags and pallets and pallets of pet food sit in a parking lot.
Over nine tons of pet food sit in the parking lot of Long Beach Masonic Center. Photo by Tom Hanberg.
Two large red bags of dog food sit on a pallet in a parking lot.
It all disappeared pretty quickly, too. Photo by Kate Karp.

“About 500 cars came through,” said Carol Kinney, the Masonic Center’s manager. “We had them in the parking lot all the way down Locust, two blacks past 36th Street—almost to Wardlow. We were supposed to begin at noon, but people were lining up at 11:15 so we opened it a little earlier—we wanted to be considerate of our neighbors.”

Kinney said that of every event she’d managed, the pet-food giveaway ran the most smoothly. About 20 volunteers that included District 8 Councilman Al Austin and Long Beach Economic Development Commission member Walter Larkin organized food by age and species, find out how much of each kind each family needed, kept lines moving, chatted with people, and lifted some pretty heavy bags.

Group of people stands in a parking lot in front of a blue pop-up tent with white letters, saying FOLBA.
Friends of Long Beach Animals volunteers at the end of a nonstop day. They still had the spirit to smile—must have been all the wagging tails. Photo by Kate Karp

Friends of Long Beach Animals president Lauren Campbell said that the ASPCA has offered to donate regularly in this capacity. Both organizations plan to hold more drive-through pet-food giveaways in the near future.

LIne of bags waiting for people to pick up food.
A lot of generosity and hard work was contained in nine tons of pet food, but the appreciation of the people who took it home for their pets—it goes without saying that it defied measurement. “I am just so eternally grateful for today’s drive to help me feed everybody and keep everybody happy,” said one recipient who cares for a number of pets in her neighborhood. “God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Photo by Tom Hanberg.

“It was so rewarding and gratifying to see all these people coming in—they can barely feed themselves, let alone their animals,” Kinney said. “And they were all so grateful.”

Friends of Long Beach Animals accepts donations here to help feed hungry pets and also get them veterinary care, spaying and neutering.  Contact them to find out how to volunteer and donate in-kind items.