Pay It Forward: Helping families that can't afford pet food

EliKate Smith fans out 5, $100 bills for KBOI 2 Chief Photographer Clyn Richard. The "Pay It Forward" was presented to Smith by Angela Nelson of Mountain America Credit Union.

It began with Milea. When the Jack Russell mix was just a puppy, 21 year old Eli Kate Smith was going through a tough time. She didn’t know how she was going to pay for dog food. Eli Kate recalled, “I couldn't imagine giving away my dog.”

Turns out she didn’t have to. A friend helped her out. And now, she helps others by offering pet food – free of charge – to people who are going through a tough time financially.

Eli Kate is the founder of Milea’s Mercy Meals in Caldwell.

Eli Kate said, “I just saw too many people giving up their pets because they couldn't take care of them. Like they're getting evicted or a medical thing came up and they just couldn't take care of their pet anymore. That's why I want to help and make sure no pet in the Treasure Valley goes hungry."

In three years, she’s given out food for 161 dogs. Her goal: "No animal goes hungry. No animal goes to the pound."

That's a lofty goal. She admits to feeling overwhelmed at times. She knows meeting the need in our area will take a lot more than just the few dollars she's been getting from friends and from her own pocket.

She’s now at a crossroads. To take her “one-woman charity” to the next level she needs help. She needs an organization. She needs to reach out to businesses. But most businesses won’t even talk to you without a 501c3 – that’s a tax exempt status that non-profits can obtain from the IRS. And for that, she needs money! (The application fee for most small charities is $850.)

“I don't want to give up,” explained Eli Kate. “Even when it seemed like my only option was to give up, we found other avenues to keep going. That's what you have to do. When you have a dream as big as ours you don't quit. You just don't. “

She has a gofundme page, and Eli Kate also has a $500 cash “Pay It Forward" from Mountain America Credit Union.

Know someone trying to make a difference in the Treasure Valley? Nominate them for a Pay It Forward! Click here for the nomination form.

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