Campus Life

Hand to Paw works with university to help Humane Society

The University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla., hosts an annual community service event on campus that encourages faculty, staff and students to make contributions to the surrounding area. This year’s Fall Community Service Project, Hand to Paw, focuses on the Humane Society of Pensacola’s efforts to collect materials and financial donations for animals in need.

The Humane Society of Pensacola (HSOP) is a no-kill animal shelter that accepts donations such as canned and dry dog and cat foods, biscuits, greenies, cat litter, copy paper and cleaning supplies. These supplies can be placed in decorated Hand to Paw boxes located in buildings across UWF campuses. Boxes will be on UWF campuses from Sept. 13 to Oct. 29 and those willing to participate need merely drop their donation into one of the many boxes.

“We wanted UWF to be a part of something that would touch people in the community,” said Irene Patti, the chair of the project committee at UWF, “and this is the type of project people can really get their hands on. Everybody loves an animal.”

Two Hand to Paw kick-off events will take place. The community kick-off is Oct. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Barktoberfest, Seville Quarter, downtown Pensacola.

“It’s a wonderful festival that people can bring their pets to,” said Patti. “There’s community service organizations that are all related to animals, and it’s a great experience for pet-owners and lovers alike.”

The UWF campus kick-off is Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the University Commons Patio Green.

“This is the fourth year UWF has done this event, and it keeps growing larger,” said Patti. “Last year, more than 2,300 pounds of materials were donated and we hope to top that this year by collecting between 2,800 and 3,000.”

The goal of UWF’s participation in Hand to Paws is two-fold. They seek to help collect materials for the Humane Society, as well as show the community UWF’s social responsibility.

“UWF has always been very good to us,” said Liz Ohlhorst, director of the HSOP. “We always have students of theirs as volunteers. We owe much to UWF and are constantly in awe of their support of HSOP and all of its four-footed residents.”

Most animals that go to a Humane Society are euthanized if they are not adopted. Hand to Paw’s main objective is to ensure adoption of these animals.

“The main goal is adoption,” said Patti. “They need a home. If that doesn’t happen, however, the great thing about the Humane Society of Pensacola is that it’s a no-kill shelter. We at least want these animals to be taken care of, regardless of where they are.”

UWF is also hosting a Hand to Paw event in Ft. Walton Beach on the Emerald Coast campus to help assist the HSOP, as well as the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.

“We run 100 percent on donations from the community,” said Ohlhorst. “These donations, both monetary and tangible, are something that we depend on to keep the animals healthy and happy. If it wasn’t for the community, there would not be a Humane Society.”

For more information on the Hand to Paw project, contact Irene Patti at (850) 474-2385 or