Windsor business owner to lop off locks for charity

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Leesa White raising funds to help area cats find forever homes

This June, a local storeowner will be facing the barber's shears as she lops off her locks for charity.

Leesa White, owner of Our Mother's Keepers on Water Street in Windsor, has agreed to have her head shaved at the conclusion of her 100 days for $1,000 fundraising campaign in support of the Hants County branch of the SPCA.

“The response has been great,” said White in a recent interview. “Some people think I'm a little nuts, other people — it encourages them to donate, because who doesn't like to see somebody look funny for money?”

White has shaved her head once before for charity, but, it was more than a decade ago and her hair is much longer now.

White, who assists animal rescue efforts by helping to re-home strays, said she felt compelled to launch the fundraiser when she read of the local SPCA's financial troubles in the Hants Journal earlier this year.

“I'm almost always fundraising for my own rescues and I know how difficult it is,” said White. “We're all in this business together because if they have to limit or cease intake of cats, then more cats are going to end up in micro-rescues like mine.”

White came up with the fundraising idea one night after leaving work.

“I'm a terrible cook, so having a bake sale was out of the question. I don't have time to knit or sew, and I was putting my hair up one night when I came home from work and trying to think of what can I do to raise money and I thought 'hair, I have hair.' Other people cut off their hair to raise money for other causes, so why not?”

On March 1, White officially kicked off her goal of reaching $1,000 in 100 days.

“That's 10 people with a dollar, (or) five people with $2 (every day). I thought it was something that was achievable,” she said.

And the response at the store has been great so far.

In addition to customers supporting her cause, area businesses have found a way to help out. A few downtown merchants and local artisans have donated items to be sold at the store, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going directly to the fundraiser. There's also a gently-used merchandise table set up at the Water Street location to further help raise funds.

White has always been passionate about helping animals, and hopes this fundraiser will not only help the local SPCA, but will remind people of how important it is to properly care for society's feline population.

“I think the most important thing is not just raising money but to raise awareness about abandoned cats, homeless cats,” she said. “They're not out there of their own will. It's not their fault. And spaying and neutering is so important. If more people spayed and neutered there wouldn't be so many homeless cats.”

White is scheduled to have her head shaved at One on One Hairstyling in Windsor on June 10 at noon.



Street Rescue fundraiser an ongoing endeavour

Sam, who greets every customer entering Our Mother's Keepers, is one of White's success stories. He was a stray that she took in about three years ago. The bright orange tabby prefers living at the store as he's a social butterfly. Sam serves as a mascot for stray cats, proving they can make wonderful pets.

Since opening her store, White has conducted 10 animal rescues, and has successfully found homes for most of them. However, while discussing the most recent strays to enter her life, White wells up with tears.

One of those young cats is Ivy and medical bills for the feline continue to mount.

“I get a little choked up when I talk about Ivy. She's one of the reasons why abandoning cats is a really bad idea. They don't do well on their own,” said White.

Ivy was born to a homeless cat that didn't receive enough nutrition during pregnancy. Because of that, Ivy was born malnourished and has osteoporosis and severe arthritis. She's fragile, and still recovering from a broken pelvis and two leg fractures. One of her littermates died before the animals could be rescued, while the other young cat requires more socializing before White can put him up for adoption.

White wishes more people would consider their actions before tossing animals aside when they grow bored of looking after them.

“She will always be physically disabled,” said White of Ivy. “We have ramps so she can get up on the bed at home. We have to have a low-sided litter box so that she can get in and out. And she's just the poster child for why cats should never be abandoned.”

Due to Ivy's ongoing medical needs, White says she'll likely never be available for adoption. As such, the public can donate to Ivy's cause, as well as helping other rescues, through the store's Street Rescue Fund.

For those wishing to donate to the Street Rescue Fund, or to White's SPCA 100 days for $1,000 campaign, but can't make it to the store, which is located at 85 Water St., donations can be mailed to Our Mother's Keepers, P.O. Box 3843, Windsor, NS, B0N 2T0. 

Organizations: Hants Journal, Street Rescue Fund

Geographic location: Windsor, Water Street, Hants County

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