Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides pet food for owners who can't afford it, plans to move its headquarters to Lilburn from its current Lawrenceville location.
"We're hoping everything will be up and running by the end of October," said founder Tom Wargo.
The Daffy's franchise is one of the largest nonprofit pet food banks in the nation for dogs, cats and other pets, according to Wargo. Daffy's also directs people to spay and neuter centers that offer services at a discount, and it assists pets in natural disaster situations, such as this year's tornado through Northwest Georgia.
A Lilburn resident for nine years, Wargo started the pet food bank in 1997, out of his own truck and under his nonprofit, the SOS Club, which is still the umbrella organization to which Daffy's belongs. Daffy's opened in 2008 and the independently owned centers can be found in warehouses, trucks and garages across the country, run by volunteers.
For Wargo's Lawrenceville branch, he runs a thrift store for the organization and a feral cat rescue program, in addition to the food bank, all of which he plans to move into the new location.
The three programs are spaced out throughout the Lawrenceville area, which has proven to be a problem for Daffy's.
“It was just a lot of running around,” said Wargo.
With the new 3,000 square-foot space, located at 4485 Lawrenceville Highway in the Merchant's Walk industrial park, the three offices would be in the same parking lot. The Highway 29 location is much smaller, but it's more convenient and would be a more visible location for customers.
"This way, we could just be there all the time and all be in one location," Wargo said. "It’s going to save us time and money."
Even though he hopes the new building will save costs, the nonprofit is currently in need of funds to finish the move. One of the new offices had been through a fire, and Wargo said it will take $4,000 to $5,000 to remodel and renovate that space.
Realistically, he said the organization needs around $10,000 for everything: the lease, deposits and other renovations. The lease is still in the works, but he hopes that it will be closed soon to meet the October deadline. Wargo explained that the lease for the current warehouse bank ends at the end of the month, and the building owner of Daffy's thrift store had allowed the nonprofit to stay rent-free, but the store had to be given back.
"If we don’t get this lease, if we don’t raise the funding and we don’t get things set up, then the food bank won’t even be open next month," he said. "Through October, the food bank would be closed."
There are many Daffy's food banks throughout the nation, with three in Georgia, but the Lawrenceville headquarters was the first to open and is the largest, according to Wargo. Covering more than 60 counties, its headquarters wouldn't be able to supply the other branches, and the 1,500 to 2,000 pets that are served under the Lawrenceville branch wouldn't be fed for a month.
"If we close one month, that's $75,000 to $80,000 worth of food that people are going to have to come up with," he said. Last year, the Lawrenceville location alone gave out 600,000 pounds of pet food.
Wargo believes one of the reasons Daffy's hasn't been able to provide the funding for the new location is because of the marketing and advertising that bigger organizations tend to get, even though many of them, such as shelters, end up putting down animals.
“People look at the dog in the crate and say, ‘Aw, I wanna help them,’” he said. “But if people would help us, those dogs wouldn’t end up in those crates. They’d be able to stay at home instead of going to the pound and getting killed. People don’t look at the preventative care.”
Wargo said he has some of the funds he needs for the new spot, but in order to get to where the organization needs to be, he's planning thrift-store fundraisers that will be held at the new location. But because the lease hasn't gone through yet, he has no place to hold any fundraisers or set any dates.
For more information or to donate to Daffy's, check out its website. Donations are also accepted through the mail at: Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 1640, Lilburn, GA 30048.