Monday, 2 January 2017

The Guinea Pig Secret Santa Project

Philanthropy and Guinea Pigs

Out in the big wide world, there are amazing people who dedicate their lives to rescuing and helping abandoned, surrendered, sick guinea pigs. Some are registered charities, some are simply kind-hearted people working, fundraising and donating for guinea pigs..

Whilst the idea that every single day guinea pigs find themselves needing rescue baffles and saddens me, knowing that there are safe places for these beautiful, gentle creatures, where they can be rehabilitated, shown love and kindness, and hopefully found a new caring forever home makes the situation a little better.

I already support Sarnia Guinea Pig Rescue on the beautiful island of Guernsey. I save stamps, send donations, and you can also find items they really need on their Amazon Wishlist. I also follow many other rescues on Facebook, YouTube  and Twitter, sharing their stories, advice and videos on my own social media. Lots of people will offer support by volunteering at their local rescue or sanctuary, they will take in foster piggies at their own home, they will do fundraising events and donate the proceeds. All these are wonderful ways to get involved. Then a few months ago I stumbled upon The Guinea Pig Secret Santa Project.

The Guinea Pig Secret Santa Project - What is it?

This is a fantastic group of volunteers who coordinate a worldwide scheme to send gift parcels to specific guinea pigs living in rescue.

Rescues send in information about piggies, often long-term residents, who they would like to receive gifts for. They provide a wishlist, photos and details of the single, pair, trio etc of piggies to the team at TGPSSP. Meanwhile, potential Secret Santas register their interest in taking part, how many piggies they would like to send gifts to and where they live (roughly, I gave the country and county where I live in my initial contact DM). If you're under 18 your are going to want to do this with a parent or guardian.

The process of pairing the piggies with their Santas takes time and a lot of work, as the team look at a lot of information, including where you are located and if you were a Santa on a previous year, they will try and match you with a different rescue this time around.

What can you send?

You can send as much or as little as you like, TGPSSP suggest a shoebox sized parcel but that's is purely a guideline.

While you are waiting to receive your match and their wishlist, you can start shopping for some rescue essentials, such as:
  • Rubber gloves
  • Syringes
  • Anti-bacterial surface wipes
  • Lint-free cotton wool pads
  • Choccies for the Rescue team (not the piggies - it's poisonous!)

Your Rescue's wishlist is likely to contain more specific items, like:
  • Oxbow Critical Care feed
  • Timothy hay
  • Natural treats
  • a particular brand of food that they use
  • particular brands of skin care products
  • tunnels and hidies

My parcel included a range of these items, plus a large water bottle, and some products from Gorgeous Guineas. Gorgeous Guineas do a lot of different, all-natural skin care products, designed and created specifically for Guinea Pigs, but try to think what a Rescue or Sanctuary might need the most when you place your order. I chose:
  • Lice and Easy shampoo - because surrendered piggies are likely to bring little friends with them!
  • CocoNeem Melt - has a coconut oil base, and is used as a treatment prior to shampooing to help relieve scurf and crusty areas of skin.
  • Calendula Lotion - which is suitable for using on pregnant piggies and Skinny Pigs (hairless), and is great for soothing sore, itchy and dry skin. Rescues see lots of pregnant sows surrendered to them every year.
NB: Check how you are going to send/deliver your gift, as some carriers cannot take parcels containing liquid.

Also NB: Before you buy any fleece/fabric tunnels, hidies and accessories for your parcel, wait until you receive your wishlist, as many rescues don't have the facilities or time to wash and dry these items, and might prefer, wooden, plastic or cardboard items instead.

I was teamed up with April Lodge Guinea Pig Rescue, and my final 'surprise' gift to them was a pencil portrait of my two Secret Santa recipients, Gonzo and his wife Busy Bee. I wanted to include something very personal in the parcel, and the photo I received of them was so beautiful that I used it to hand draw them onto watercolour paper. I popped it in a board backed envelope and put it in the parcel with everything else.
April Lodge Guinea Pig residents Gonzo Busy Bee Rebecca Reynolds BA HonsPumpkin Becki
Pencil Portrait of April Lodge Guinea Pig Rescue residents Gonzo and Busy Bee.
Drawn by Rebecca Reynolds BA (Hons)
aka Pumpkin Becki
Sadly Gonzo passed away just before Christmas, but Busy Bee received her gifts safely, and generously gave her portrait to the kind lady who had fostered her and Gonzo for a time.

If you would like to take part in upcoming Guinea Pig Secret Santas, then pop over to their Facebook page and give them a follow
Sleep tight little Gonzo xx

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