By Nick Emmons, WBZ-TV

ACUSHNET (CBS) – A family in Acushnet is making sure pet owners can feed their fur babies this holiday season. Jill and Kenneth Gonsalves opened a pet food pantry in their front yard farm stand for anyone who needs it. Jill said, “We just tell people that they can take whatever they want and leave anything that they can.”

The couple came up with the idea after Kenneth saw a man at a local store scraping together spare change to pay for cat food. “I saw him counting out a bunch of nickels and dimes and pennies,” said Kenneth. “Then when I looked at what he was purchasing, it was just one can of cat food.” He ended up buying several cans of food for the man.

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Kenneth went to Facebook to ask the community where people can pick up pet food free of charge, and he was surprised by the response. “The only answer we could get was, occasionally at food pantries sometimes they have animal food if somebody donates,” Kenneth said.

Jill and Kenneth Gonsalves set up a pet food pantry at their Acushnet farm stand (Photo Nick Emmons/WBZ)

Jill came up with the idea to use the farm stand, which has been in Kenneth’s family for decades. The house where he and Jill live next door was his grandfather’s. Now, instead of vegetables, they’re stocking it up with varieties of kibbles. They went to the store and spent a few hundred dollars on all kinds of dog and cat food, both canned and bagged. Then the community started pitching in. Jill said, “There are people dropping stuff off here, there are people asking if they can mail us checks.”

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Jill and Kenneth Gonsalves

While the outpouring of support has been great, it has been difficult to reach people who need the food. They’re hoping anyone who may be in a difficult situation, will feel comfortable coming by the farm stand, to get whatever they need for their pet or pets. “Some people might hesitate to ask for it,” said Jill, “nobody’s here, you don’t have to ask anybody.”

At least one person has stopped by, though, and left a heartfelt handwritten letter from a family in a difficult financial situation. It begins with, “My husband and I recently lost our jobs,” and goes on to say, “I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies…Thank you so very much for your help. God bless and stay safe.”

The Acushnet Pet Food Pantry is located at:

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Curly’s Farmstand
95 Wing Road
Acushnet, MA
508-951-2136 or 774-766-0475