When Gigi King was asked to take part in a first-of-its-kind fundraiser for the Maui Humane Society (MHS), she had a feeling it would be an overnight success. Literally.

King, an ardent animal lover and Realtor-Salesperson with Wailea Realty Corp. A Boutique of Windermere Real Estate, was one of 14 volunteers who participated in MHS’s inaugural Spring Fling Slumber Party fundraiser on Saturday, March 16.

And yes, there was an actual slumber party—complete with matching PJs, music, games, and squeaky toys. “I was asked by Nancy Willis, director of development and community outreach for MHS, if I would be interested in participating in the first-time-ever fundraiser and spend the night in a kennel with one of the shelter dogs,” King explained. “She said it was to raise awareness in the community about life in a kennel for homeless animals. At first, I thought: ‘do I want to sleep in a kennel all night with a dog?’ Then I thought: ‘yes, of course I do!’ I have such a great love of all animals and dogs are especially dear to my heart.”

After a month of fundraising, King and her fellow volunteers arrived at the shelter at 5 p.m. that Saturday for the sleepover. The first order of business? “We all went to our assigned kennels and started decorating, making it our own cozy unique space,” King said. “My theme was “Bail Us Out of Jail.” Then, she was introduced to her four-legged roommate, a mixed-breed male named Lilo. “Sweet Lilo and I hit it off right away,” King said. “I welcomed him with toys and treats—and most of all, lots of love.”

Once the humans and canines settled into their respective kennels, friends, family, and members of the media stopped by for a visit. “They learned a little bit about each dog and marveled at our kennel themes,” King said. “Then challenges were done for donations. Some ate dog biscuits, some did ‘doga’ exercises, and one special dog was serenaded by his human with a guitar—it brought a few tears. There was love in the air for sure.”

At 10 p.m., it was lights out. “Lilo was tired and so was I…we snuggled and I held him close to me,” she recalled. “I like to think he slept a little deeper and a little more peacefully that night. It was sad to think the next night I wouldn’t be there for Lilo to snuggle up to.”

King started campaigning for the Spring Fling Slumber Party in early February. “With the help of so many friends and family, I raised over $3,100 for MHS,” she said. “All of the participants did a great job and raised a lot of money…MHS received over $47,000.” It was King’s first pajama party fundraiser—and it won’t be the last. “I believe giving back is an honor and also my duty to our wonderful Maui community,” she said. “I feel like it is important to do everything I can for the causes dear to my heart.”

With that in mind, she encourages others to consider signing up for next year’s event. “I would highly recommend it,” she said. “It was the most rewarding event for animals that I have done. I even made some new friends and feel a special bond with all who participated in this overnight event.” And in the interim, you can support MHS in other ways. “If you are considering adopting a pet, please go visit MHS and spend some time with one of the shelter animals,” King said. “If you are considering volunteering or donating to MHS, you will not be disappointed. MHS is run by very talented people who love what they do…and they get things done.”

Volunteers are always needed to provide temporary care for foster animals—cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs—who aren’t quite ready for adoption or when the shelter is full. Apart from helping prepare these animals for adoption, fostering frees up valuable space in the shelter to accommodate other animals. For more information about the Maui Humane Society, visit www.mauihumanesociety.org or call 877-3680. The Maui Humane Society is located at 1350 Mehameha Loop in Pu‘unene and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To view video footage (including the guitar lullaby that was sung to one of the shelter dogs) and photos of the Spring Fling Slumber Party, visit the MHS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MauiHumaneSociety.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – March 30, 2019

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