Randy Sandman's eyes light up when he talks about Rocky, a small, fluffy white dog with a sweet disposition and an underbite. And then there's Susie, Sabrina, and Alfred … and the list of lovable dogs goes on.
Twice a week, the Elgin resident walks dogs, and spends time with the dogs and cats up for adoption at Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, where he's been a volunteer for almost a year.
About this seriesThis is the time of year when it never hurts to sit back for just a moment amid all the hustle and bustle and reflect on the people who make our lives just a little bit better, who always seem to be there for us, who put the heart and soul in our communities.
There are countless such people across the Fox Valley and Tri-Cities, of course, and over the next week or so we'd like to introduce you to a few of them. During a time of reflection, these truly are People to be Thankful For.
"There's a lot of good dogs," Randy Sandman said. "They just want someone to be with them for awhile."
In early November, Sandman and his wife, Jan, attended the shelter's annual dinner and auction fundraising gala. Randy left that night feeling inspired to do more for the animals. Knowing his construction union, Laborers' Local 582 of Elgin, helps out organizations in the community, he asked for a donation for the shelter at a recent meeting. He was thrilled when the union presented him with a $250 check.
"And then I thought I'd like to try to maybe make some funds to match that," hs said. So he volunteered to work a Tag Day, which is a when a shelter representative stands outside a participating local business collecting donations and distributing information on how to get involved with the shelter.
Randy enlisted Jan to help him collect donations at the South Elgin Jewel on blustery weekend day. To get the attention of shoppers and convey their message, they brought along a large golden-colored stuffed dog standing a few feet tall. It worked like a charm.
"I thought it might be a couple weekends, but I could tell after 15 minutes that it was going real good … We were able to match (the funds) that day," he said.
Within three hours, the Sandmans had raised about $300. Jan remembers how receptive the shoppers were, wanting to know more about the shelter and how they "dug into their purses and wallets and made great donations" to fill up the donation jar with $5, $10 and $20 bills as well as coins.
"The people were really awesome," Randy said. "It was great."
Several donors talked about their animals and shared stories of how they had adopted from Anderson Animal Shelter. As the donation drive time window drew to a close, the Sandmans hoped for just one more donation. But it was slow, so they started heading to their car. Then they heard a woman shouting, "Here! Here!" as she followed after them in the parking lot.
"So we did get that final one. It was amazing." said Randy.
With the holiday season approaching, Randy plans to keep on helping charities. After spending a day out in the cold gathering donations, he has a newfound appreciation for the Salvation Army bell ringers.
"I'll make sure I'll always give to them from now on for sure," he said. "Because once you do it for a little while, you appreciate it more."
Jan agreed and jokingly added, "Our bell was the dog."
For more information on volunteering or how to a donation to the Anderson Animal Shelter, go to www.andersonanimalshelter.com or call (847) 697-2880.
• Do you know of a person to be thankful for in the Fox Valley? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.