In the town of Rubyvale, Queensland, there is an amazing woman whose fundraising activities have helped save the lives of literally hundreds of animals. Countless dogs that were waiting in misery and fear to be euthanized in council pounds have instead had leads slipped over their heads and been walked out the front door. Cats and kittens cowering in cages have been gently picked up and carried to new foster care homes. They have all gone on to new lives of love and safety. And they all have Andrea Shawmarsh’s tireless fundraising to thank for their second chance.
Eight years ago, Andrea read an article in the local CQ News about a new charity starting up, CQ Pet Rescue. They were planning to rescue animals on death row in the local council pounds and catteries and find them new homes. A lifelong animal lover who arrived 41 years ago to the Gemfields as a child, Andrea knew this was a cause she could absolutely get behind, and contacted a committee member to discuss what she could do to help.
Andrea has owned the Rubyvale Friendly Grocer in partnership with her sister for sixteen years, and her parents owned the grocery store for years prior to them. So Andrea was the best possible champion CQ Pet Rescue could have in the area to start promoting CQ Pet Rescue to the local community. A few weeks after making contact with the CQPR committee, Andrea had one of the very first CQ Pet Rescue donation tins sitting on her counter in her store, and her journey to being one of the organisations greatest champions began.
There isn’t much Andrea hasn’t done in terms of raising funds. In addition to cash donations, she has organised for sales of donated books and DVD’s with funds to be donated to CQPR, raffles of donated items, and even sold off items as large as fridges and household furniture. The New Royal Hotel in Rubyvale does regular ‘Blingo’ nights once a month which raise money for a variety of charities, and Andrea, along with staff member and friend Karen, have assisted in organising two of these nights to have all proceeds to go to CQ Pet Rescue. Andrea is currently doing a roaring trade in homemade frozen pupsicles (which both look and taste amazing – if you don’t live in the Gemfields, well worth a drive with your dog to come and try one or four of these!).
The Gemfields is the biggest cash donator in the entire Central Highlands region, consistently out-performing every other donation box put together. We asked Andrea why she thought that this was the case. “It’s a very close-knit and generous community” Andrea said thoughtfully. “I’ve had people in here that literally had one last dollar to their name and they’ve donated it to the CQ Pet Rescue because they know it’ll make a difference. They come in and ask us for help with finding lost dogs, or help with a litter, but they are also prepared to give a lot back. It’s just who we are.”
Andrea has always been an animal lover, and her passion for rescue animals stems from understanding that “They can’t help themselves. They need someone to step up and help them”. Andrea has had a number of rescued pets over the years, and they’ve loved her just as much as she has loved them. Knowing the love that a rescue animal can give has given Andrea the drive to be such a passionate fundraiser for CQ Pet Rescue. When we asked why she puts in so much effort, Andrea replied laughing “I just enjoy it so much, really. I find it so rewarding, and I really love finding out how much is in the donation tin every time we send it in. It’s great fun to see if we can beat our own record!”
Andrea is quick to state that fundraising for CQ Pet Rescue is a huge team effort by all her staff, who work tirelessly to promote the different ways people can help. “Karen in particular is really passionate about encouraging people to get on board with the different ways we fundraise, she really gets behind whatever we decide to do next, but Trish, Dee and Linda all get excited about talking to people about what we’re up to for CQ Pet Rescue, and how our customers can get involved and help. My partner Richard is always really supportive, and I’m glad he is, because that donation tin is very heavy by the time we take it back to Emerald and he carries it in for me!”
When asked what the future holds for her, Andrea replied that she believes she’ll be right where she is for a long time to come yet, and a big part of what she’ll be doing will be to keep on fundraising for CQ Pet Rescue!