Millennials and Gen Xers make volunteer team stronger

By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Communications Director

The core of the FOTAS volunteer team consists of retirees who dedicate their time to help the homeless animals at the Aiken County Animal Shelter (ACAS). Their commitment and hard work helps the shelter function at its optimal level.

But recently FOTAS has enjoyed an influx of younger volunteers who donate their free time whenever they can, working around their work, school and social schedules to assist the Shelter staff. These Millennials (ages 18 to 34) and Gen Xers (ages 35-50) are learning the ropes from their older peers while adding their distinctive skills, perspectives and energy to the volunteer talent pool.

“I just want to help when I can, so I’ve started volunteering to walk the dogs on Tuesdays,” said Tara Heuberger of Aiken, who often brings along her young son, Tegan. “For me, it is a fulfilling experience to do something for these animals and the community.”

Jackie Anderson of Graniteville is another young blood who is becoming a familiar face at the ACAS. She was working fulltime at a busy medical practice in Maryland until her husband received a job opportunity in Augusta. When the couple decided to move, Jackie had to quit her job but took the opportunity to go back to school and volunteer at the shelter.

“I am lucky enough to have some extra time to devote to a great cause like FOTAS,” Jackie said. “My favorite part of volunteering is seeing the look on the faces of the animals and the adopters when they find their ‘love at first sight!’”

Kelsey Hayes of Aiken is a young volunteer who is also making a difference at the shelter. She comes in four days a week to help walk the dogs and socialize the cats.

“Each dog and cat has something special about them and getting the chance to spend time with them keeps me motivated to find every one of them a home.” Kelsey said.

Another Millennial, Kara Norris of North Augusta, enjoys taking a break from her busy schedule to volunteer at the shelter.

“I don’t worry about anything else while I am with the shelter dogs,” she said. “I just enjoy being able to be a part of their life and showing them the love they deserve.  It is very rewarding to take part in helping these animals start their new lives.”

Saturday and Extended Shelter Hours. Just a reminder that the shelter is once again open for adoptions on Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the ACAS is open an additional half hour for adoptions, closing at 5 p.m. On Mondays and Fridays, the shelter closes at 4:30 p.m.

Last Saturday, we celebrated our extended hours with a Grand Reopening, and the community responded in a big way – nine animals were adopted. Thank you to everyone for this great support. Now, let’s keep this adoption momentum going every weekend!

Their lives are in our hands.

For more information about the FOTAS Volunteer Program and the shelter’s new hours, please go to or call the Aiken County Animal Shelter, (803) 642-1537.