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A $26,000 grant, made possible by the Petco Love Stories campaign, was revealed at a Petco store in Tualatin.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAT ADOPTION TEAM - Cat Adoption Team of Sherwood receives a $26,000 grant from Petco LoveCat Adoption Team (CAT) of Sherwood has just received a huge financial shot in the arm in the form of a $26,000 grant award from Petco Love.

The announcement and presentation of a check was made at a ceremony held Thursday, Dec. 16, at Petco in Tualatin.

Two Portland-area pet adopters, and their heartwarming stories, earned the grant for the popular cat adoption facility.

In the Petco Love Stories campaign, Lake Oswego resident Sandi Martin and Sheri Karpa of Vancouver, Washington, were selected as two of 100 national winners from thousands of submissions.

John Sierra, regional field program manager for Petco Love, described the Petco Love Stories campaign.

"We invite adopters to submit stories of how their animal that they adopted changed their lives," Sierra said. "We read these stories. … We're here to celebrate the adoption of the animals."

One hundred winners were selected, and close to $1 million in total will be disbursed, Sierra said.

Martin and Karpa delivered their stories and told how much they love their cats.

Martin tells the story about her foster cat Lilly who, not long after joining the family, sniffed out a gas leak in their home, thereby alerting the home occupants of the danger.

Karpa and her family were facing the trauma of losing their two much-loved cats. Their new cat, Luna, helped Karpa's son overcome depression and anxiety.

The attachment between Luna and the Karpa family became apparent.

"We came in just to see the cats, and Luna found us," Karpa said. "We brought her home and she completely lit everybody back up."

Martin was happy to provide her story, telling Pamplin Media Group, "I adopted Lilly from the Cat Adoption Team," where Martin is a volunteer of about 10 years.

Martin continued, "I've been fostering cats for a few years, and I was fostering Lilly. We decided to adopt her because she was so sweet. ... She follows me around all the time.

"I am exuberant for Cat Adoption Team. I'm thrilled that they're getting this grant."

Karpa was also appreciative of the grant, saying, "I am so grateful to Petco Love Stories for sponsoring this and giving back to Cat Adoption Team and other shelters across the United States. It's just an incredible honor to just to be a small part of this. I'm incredibly grateful."

Karen Green, executive director of Cat Adoption Team, was happy to receive the $26,000 grant.

"We were thrilled — we were not expecting anything like this amount," Green said. "It's a really meaningful gift for our organization, and we've had a great partnership with Petco Love for many years."

Green added, "This was a wonderful surprise and will really help us find homes for a lot of cats and get cats prepared to go to new families."

Green noted that CAT does around 3,000 adoptions and a couple thousand spay-neuter surgeries each year.

"We have a lot of activities and programs," Green said. "This will help support (them)."

Cat Adoption Team has found homes for over 55,000 cats and kittens since opening in May 1998. As a 501(c)(3) publicly supported charity, CAT relies on the support of individuals and organizations.

Jennifer Perez, public relations and internal communications manager for Petco Love, summed up Petco's feelings about the Dec. 16 event.

"This is one of our most favorite campaigns all year long," Perez said. "It's all about celebrating pet adoption and the spirit of giving during the holiday season."

Perez continued, "For me personally, these heartwarming love stories just reflect the importance of pets in our lives."

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