Norfolk nonprofit providing food assistance for pets during government shutdown

NORFOLK, Va. - Heidi Watkins has always loved animals.

Since she has an extensive background working with organizations that help the less fortunate, Watkins took that experience to the next level. In 2017, Watkins started "Winston Wishes," a nonprofit that helps with food assistance for pets.

"I just wanted to do something different," Watkins said. "I have always loved animals and there's a lot of organizations to help people, but animals kind of just get dumped."

Watkins came up with the idea of helping pets when she rescued a cat that was left behind by a family who moved away. The cat was in desperate need of medical assistance.

With the help of donations, the cat was brought back to health and was then adopted by Watkins. She named her new family member "Winston."

Watkins fears the government shutdown will put extra stress on federal employees and their families. By providing food for those families' pets, Watkins hopes the food assistance will help elevate the pain of not receiving a paycheck.

Related: How to pay your bills during the government shutdown 

"We are always need of donations," Watkins added. "We don't do what we do without the support of the community."

If you would like to donate, volunteer or learn more about Winston Wishes, click here.

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