August 16, 2004 – More than a dozen genip-hawking volunteers for the Humane Society of St. Thomas greeted motorists traveling through Smith Bay on Sunday. Some drivers honked, some sped along scarcely noticing, but those who stopped were treated to bunches of sweet genips for $1.
Burgers, chicken, t-shirts and ceramic pet food bowls were also in the offing, but the genips were at the center of the Humans Society effort, according to Anna Clarke, the event's creator.
Clarke, past president of the Humane Society and owner of Smith Bay's English pub, the Toad and Tart, where Sunday's event took place, explained that it was really the large genip tree on her restaurant's property that gave her the idea.
"It's so full of fruit, I thought, why not just give it to the community," Clarke said. And so, a new Humane Society tradition was born. Clarke said she expects Genips for Crits, as the fund-raiser has been named, to become an annual event.
Of course, the crits were the real stars Sunday. A handful of kittens and a pack of pups got to take a field trip from the Humane Society's Estate Nadir facility.
No adoptions took place Sunday, but Humane Society President Joseph Aubain said he thought the event was a success. "I would say between 100 and 150 cars stopped," Aubain said, pointing out that Genips for Crits is less for raising funds and more for reaching out to the community.
Aubain also said the society gained eight new members on Sunday and were several people showed interested in adoptions. "They'll probably come into the shelter later this week," he said.
With $1.8 million still required to fund the society's planned Animal Care Campus in Tutu, and ground-breaking to happen before October, Aubain said that selling genips to passing cars isn't going cover the bill. "But it's important for the community to see us and the work we're doing for the animals of St. Thomas," he said.
That work includes taking in dozens of abandoned, injured and wild animals every day. Frankie Santana, a Humane Society board member who says his position involves oversight of shelter operations, said that at any given time the facility might house as many as 80 cats and dogs. "We always need good people to adopt, we always have too many animals," Santana said.
Santana's 13-year-old son, Manny, did much for the event by expertly maneuvering the upper branches of the genip tree and retrieving hundreds of bunches of the small green fruit. Manny made light work of almost a whole day spent in the tree, saying he's been climbing for as long as he can remember.
The next Humane Society event will be the fourth annual Barktober Sunday, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., Oct. 17, at Latitude 18 on the East End. "This is a family event with pet competitions, raffles, and booths with lots of pet stuff for sale," Aubain said.
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