Twisted Oaks set to move into permanent home in April

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/26/22

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – A pet pantry is fundraising to honor famed actress Betty White, who championed the welfare of animals.

Jesse Shekels, who runs Twisted Oaks Rescue, said what White stood for …

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Twisted Oaks set to move into permanent home in April

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – A pet pantry is fundraising to honor famed actress Betty White, who championed the welfare of animals.

Jessie Shekels, who runs Twisted Oaks Rescue, said what White stood for was important. On Dec. 31, White died 18 days shy of her 100th birthday.

“She advocated and educated people for the benefit of animals,” Shekels said. “When she passed, we wanted to do something big.”

So, Shekels asked the community to donate something in White’s honor. The pantry collected 800 pounds of pet food on Jan. 17, White’s birthday.

The goal is to feed the pets of 100 families on Feb. 26. There are three areas to donate in Keystone Heights: Hatch Realty Services, Cricket Wireless or the Tea Room of Keystone Heights.

“We decided this is going to be an ongoing thing,” Shekels said.

In 90 minutes, Twisted Oaks can distribute 100 pounds of food, Shekels said, and they’ve distributed several tons of food since April 2020.

Shekels said she started driving around dog food to people. Someone said it would be a good idea to start a drive-up distribution. For the rescue’s distributions, cars are parked 1.5 miles out five hours before they start.

“The need was real,” Shekels said. “It made you understand this is important and effectively something we’ll keep doing.”

Twisted Oaks doesn’t adopt animals and operates as a pet pantry, as well as preventative care for pets and a spay and neuter clinic when they’re able. Twisted Oaks operates mostly within the Lake Region, but extends to Alachua County and nearby areas. Distribution doesn’t address root causes of families in need like overpopulation, which is why social work is a part of Twisted Oaks’ mission.

“We have pet events, awareness and education, just trying to bring local resources to communities that need them,” Shekels said. “If we have a mission, (volunteers) knock it out of the park,” she said.

The rescue’s next step is a large undertaking – a permanent pet pantry. Shekels said she’s targeting April for its opening. She laughed and said carrying hundreds of pounds of pet food is great for keeping in shape, but a building can better serve the community by storing more food, she added.

“It’s pretty huge for us. We want to serve on a one-on-one basis,” Shekels said. “We feel like we’ll be able to do more for our community.”

More information on where to donate is available at twistedoaksrescue.com or the organization’s Facebook page.

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