Tails of Hope raises awareness, funds with sPay it Forward

May 9—HERMITAGE — In a first for Tails of Hope., the "sPay It Forward Challenge" raised both awareness and funds for the nonprofit spay and neuter clinic.

The challenge was held throughout the month of April, culminating on April 28 — a date observed internationally as Pay It Forward Day.

For Tails of Hope's sPay it Forward Challenge, participants were encouraged to complete three steps, beginning with sharing the challenge and awareness of the clinic, Tails of Hope Executive Director Soraya Hejazi said.

Next, participants shared photos of themselves, friends or pets online with the hashtag, #TOHsPayItForward.

This step was predominantly shared through social media, although a website was created specifically for the challenge as well.

Finally, participants had to give a donation by Pay It Forward Day. However, the goal of the event wasn't strictly fundraising, Hejazi said.

"This event was really focused on coming together with friends or family to make a difference in our community," Hejazi said. "Spreading that awareness was more of the goal, and making sure that the community knows what Tails of Hope is and what we do."

Six teams participated in this inaugural challenge, which ultimately raised $1,700. Hejazi said the funds would be put toward continuing the clinic's mission of offering spaying and neutering services at low- to no-cost for qualified pet owners.

The three winning teams included:

— the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, which will receive special-edition T-shirts from Valley Silk Screening.

— Coddled Critter Clan, which will receive a custom-crafted menu and Haitian/Caribbean island cultural experience for a party of six at Haitian Sensation.

— Kismet PEO x Gilbert's Risk Solutions, which will receive 2024 Mahoning Valley Scrappers tickets for eight people.

Hejazi congratulated the teams and thanked the three "generous" businesses who sponsored the challenge and provided "great" prizes for the winning teams.

The sPay It Forward Challenge will return next year, she said.

"It was a good opening for a first-time challenge, so we're hoping these participants will return and even more groups will decide to join in for the next one," Hejazi said.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.