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Fraternal Order of Police raising funds
Weekend bucket drive aids humane society
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They call pennies and nickels spare change.

But those loose coins jingling in car cup holders could be good as gold for abandoned pets and the families of ailing sheriff's deputies.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, members of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge will don yellow vests, carry white buckets and stand at busy intersections across Forsyth County.

At least 20 volunteers from the FOP and the Humane Society of Forsyth County will collect donations from drivers at

The Avenue at Forsyth, Exit 13 south at Ga. 400, the intersection of Hwys. 9 and 369, McFarland Road at Ga. 400 and other locations.

Funds collected will be dispersed among several FOP efforts, including the nonprofit no-kill animal shelter, said Tuck Nicholls, a lodge member and financial crimes investigator with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office north precinct.

"It takes a lot of money in a no-kill shelter to keep these little guys alive until they can be adopted," said Nicholls, whose family pets include two miniature pinchers named Harley and Snoopy and a cat named Smoky.

Earlier this summer, the FOP decided to join with the volunteer-based humane society for the bucket drive.

Since the shelter is a no-kill rescue organization, animals are placed with foster families until permanent homes can be found.

However, with the sagging economy and the skyrocketing number of home foreclosures, the humane society has found itself in the crux of related troubles -- too many homeless animals, too few volunteers, reduced donations and overflowing shelters.

"It's always a huge need," said Cheryl McLaughlin, director of fundraising for the humane society. "We never have enough space, enough foster homes. I know other shelters in the area are having similar problems."

Tim Link, humane society president, said they are "seeing quite a bit of an influx of cats and dogs."

"Even drop-offs after hours," he said. "The two biggest things we need help with are funds and volunteers."

McLaughlin said the organization is thrilled to work with the FOP in helping pets while also assisting deputies and their families.

"They're helping a lot of people," she said. "And neglected animals."

Donations will also help build up the FOP's illness and injury fund for deputies and their families, which will immediately benefit Tab Carpenter, a north precinct property crimes investigator who has been battling colon cancer for two years.

Nicholls credits his wife, Mary Jane, and members of the David P. Land Memorial Lodge No. 82 (named in honor of a late Forsyth sheriff's deputy) for formulating the bucket drive idea.

"When I worked the road, we used to go out on animal calls," Nicholls said. "Animals are left behind all the time. It was just a real problem."

And with hard times compounding the problem, McLaughlin realizes some people simply can't keep their pets.

"I would live in my car," rather than give them up, she said. "They're like my children."