Main Street Kansas: Starkey employees make fun product to benefit one-of-a-kind animal sanctuary

Main Street Kansas

Many animal rescue groups help dogs and cats, but now, a new nonprofit in Kansas is taking in larger animals, like horses, goats and pigs.

At Mt. Hope Animal Sanctuary, Jana Reeder cares for farm animals that are lost or mistreated. 

Even a deer whose mother was killed on the highway stops by for a treat or nuzzle.

Several horses and donkeys were once headed for the slaughterhouse in Mexico, where Reeder says they are not killed humanely.  

Sassy the pig was found running loose around East High in Wichita.

“Vinnie the goat there, he was wandering around Pawnee and Broadway,” laughed Reeder. “Somebody said, ‘Oh my gosh!’ and brought him out here.”

What started by word of mouth as a safe haven became an official nonprofit in November. That means Reeder can apply for grants, instead of relying on donations.

Just feeding all the animals costs about $100 a week, not to mention the farrier and veterinarian bills.

One donkey has a bad leg, another donkey is pregnant, and a calf takes pain medicine for an injury suffered at birth– expenses that add up. 

But now, one of Jana’s volunteers, who wants to remain anonymous, has come up with a fundraising product.

It’s called “Cheerkins”– a flexible figure mounted on a stick, made to look like the mascots of Wichita State, KU and KSU.  

It sells for $9.99 at the WSU bookstores and online at Cheerkins.com.

Any profits will go to help animal rescue groups, and the work to make Cheerkins benefits Starkey Incorporated.

Employees with disabilities assemble the Cheerkins. They’ve made 800 so far and are working on another 300.

“I think it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it,” said employee, Kameron Rippberger.

“They love to work, they love to be paid for the work they do, and they love the variety of work our community offers to them,” said Jamie Reed, Starkey’s communications director. 

Another way to help the animals– the Mt. Hope Animal Sanctuary is hosting a fundraiser called “Bitchy Bingo” on Friday, March 15th. It’s at the XY Bar in Wichita from 6-9 pm.

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