Four-legged fundraiser

Published 9:17 am Friday, April 11, 2014

Submitted photo

Chloe is one of many furry friends available for adoption at the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan. (Submitted photo/Sarah Miller)

Easter egg hunt, 5k to benefit humane society

BENTON HARBOR—The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has teamed up with Harbor Shores and Mad Dog 5/1 Revolutionary Fitness to present a unique event that celebrates Easter while promoting a healthy lifestyle and benefitting a worthy cause.

The first ever egg hunt and 5K “Easter Harbor Hop” will be held on April 13 at the Harbor Shores Nature and Fitness Trails, located at 201 Graham Ave.

“Harbor Shores contacted us and asked if we’d like to partner with them,” explained said Jill Svoboda, executive director of the humane society. “Since we already do a golf outing, we decided to do a 5K, but we wanted to make it different from all the others, so we added the egg hunt to it because it takes place one week before Easter.”

The day begins with an 8 a.m. registration, and the fun run/walk begins at 9 a.m. It will be conducted in waves, with eggs placed along the course for children to find as they go.

“We have over 600 eggs with candy, little toys and prizes inside them, and they will be placed along the course,” Svoboda said.

The Lakeshore Baseball Team will be refreshing the eggs after each wave, and the Easter Bunny will hop out onto the course with special eggs as participants pass by.

Face painting and visits with the Easter Bunny will also be taking place. A breakfast will be served in the pavilion at 10 a.m. and at 12 p.m., but reservations for that portion of the event have now been closed. Registration for the 5K, however, will continue up through the morning of the event

“You can walk, run, hop or saunter,” Svoboda said. “It’s just for fun; it’s not a race.”

The cost for participating in the event is $25 for adults and $10 for children and students. A special family rate is also being offered for families at $65, which covers the participation costs for two adults and as many children as are in the family. Participating adults will also receive T-shirts.

All of the proceeds from the event will go towards the building of a new facility for the humane society on M-139, next door to the Concord Ridge Equestrian Center.

“We’ve already purchased the parcel of land,” Svoboda explained. “Now, we need to raise $2 million for the construction of the building and all of the permits, including an apron required by MDOT.”

The humane society’s current building, located on Crystal Avenue in Benton Harbor, no longer adequately serves the needs of the shelter, and it is beyond repair. “The existing shelter is very old. It’s crumbling around us,” Svoboda said. “The oldest part, which was built in the 1950s, is unusable. We only use that for storage. The newer part was built in the 1970s, and we just don’t have enough space for the animals.”

As the first “no kill” shelter in the region, the humane society is focused on finding loving homes for the animals there as well as on providing a better quality of life for the animals that remain at the shelter.

“We want to allow inside-outside access to the animals at their leisure. We now have 60 dogs and about 100 cats. The cats will be in community rooms instead of in small cages. That will be a way better environment for them,” Svoboda said.

Plans also include creating communities for the dogs by color-coding them based on which ones get along well together.

Besides participating in the 5K and the Bids for Barks fundraiser scheduled for May, folks can help the shelter by volunteering there.

“We hold volunteer orientations every second Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m.,” Svoboda said. “Just come to one orientation, and then you can come by any time and help out as your schedule allows. Children are welcome, too, but they need to be accompanied by a parent.”

More information about volunteering, photos of the animals that are available for adoption, and registration forms for the Easter Harbor Hop are all available on the society’s website at Updated information can also be found on the society’s Facebook page.