This is a feel good story about the heart and soul of the East End of Long Island. Two women who work together at the Hamptons Synagogue walking the walk and not just talking the talk. From the moment Gabriella Rose answered the phone for this interview one could sense her friendly demeanor and warmth of spirit. Within seconds one could tell how much she admires her friend, Valerie Sanks, along with Val’s special gift connecting with dogs. Gabriella explained, “Valerie loves dogs. Before COVID, she used to go to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter almost every day to see the dogs, some that have been in the shelter for over six years. Those dogs know and love her. She takes them for walks – even drives, she is their best friend.”
Gabriella continued, “She’s a volunteer like no other. She would take shelter dogs out on lunch dates, plan sleepovers and birthday parties at local pet friendly hotels and so much more for dogs who needed some extra love.” The pride that Gabriella had for her friend poured out in each sentence during the interview.
She then noted, “But in recent months, because of COVID, Valerie hasn’t been able to be at the shelter and care for the dogs. So, she came up with the idea to collect jars of peanut butter. She’s collected everything from blankets to treats, so why not peanut butter? It’s something that all dogs love. Her goal is 300 jars, all of which will go to Brookhaven Animal Shelter. The deadline is November 8 and people can send the peanut butter to Valerie or call the shelter directly at 631-451-6950.”
Gabriella joined the cause by lending her expertise. “Val asked me to come up with a visual graphic. So, I came on board to help with the graphic design work, as I have my own freelance business, Gabriella Rose Creative Designs. Valerie wanted a visual chart to keep track of the donations and something that she could share with everyone,” she shared. “We’re asking that people donate creamy peanut butter, not crunchy and not organic, which has added ingredients to reduce sugar -content that’s not good for dogs. Skippy and Jiff are great or any other generic brand. It took off from there, I shared it on my social media, my Instagram and Facebook page, and then some of my friends shared it with their friends. So, I have just been promoting it for Val, for the Brookhaven Animal Shelter, and also just contributing in any way that I can to help them because it is a really cool idea and it has taken off in a way that so many people are responding and want to help.”
Sadly, since the shelter closed down back in March, only the official staff are allowed in and can see the dogs. Therefore, Valerie has to meet the staff outside the facility to hand off the peanut butter. Gabriella emphasized, “It’s been hard for Val as many of these dogs have been secluded. She really cares for them; they are like family to her and she to them.” In addition to collecting peanut butter, Gabriella explained Valerie is also working on collecting Secret Santa’s for shelter animals and collecting blankets for the holiday season. She believes that all shelter animals should receive a new blanket. For more information about these projects, visit the Facebook page for her organization, Blanket’s for Buster and His Friends.
Proudly Gabriella revealed, “So far we’ve collected 156 jars of peanut butter and there’s still more coming. It’s amazing to see people’s love and support for shelter animals, especially during these times. If the goal of 300 jars is exceeded, we might donate the additional peanut butter to other shelters.”
Donations can be mailed to:
PO Box 335
Rocky Point, NY 11778