Humane Helper

Jamie Diaz, 21, is an independent Avon representative in Tucson. Formerly from Sahuarita, Diaz moved to Tucson in 2001 to attend Pima Community College. An Avon rep since 2002, Diaz recently launched a fund-raising project to benefit the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Her goal is to sell 2,000 Avon "Tabby Cat" plush toys in order to raise $13,000 for the Humane Society.

Tell me about your fund-raising project.

Fund-raising is part of Avon. They have several different ways to do fund-raisers. This is the seasonal one. They have a stuffed animal from Gund (called) Tabby Cat. I sell the cat, and people can keep the cat or donate it to Toys for Tots. If you buy a cat, you are entered into a raffle. If they can't afford to buy the cat, I take $1 and $2 donations and (they're) entered into a raffle.

So you have two raffles going?

Yes. One is for people who make donations of $17 or more and either purchase the cat or donate it to Toys for Tots. That raffle has Wal-Mart gift certificates and Avon gift baskets that were donated by several people. The smaller raffle is for people who donate a dollar or two, (and the prizes) are fast-food gift certificates.

How much do the cats cost?

They are $17 a piece. Forty percent of the sale goes to the Humane Society.

And the donated cats go to Toys for Tots?

Yes. For everyone who donates a cat, there's a tag that says "donated by." I will take them to Toys for Tots at the end of November.

How did you come up with the idea to sell 2,000 cats?

My district sales manager said, "How does 2,000 sound?" I said, "It sounds great to me." I thought it would be a good challenge. É It's gone pretty good so far. I have all of November. I have a lot of people who want a cat. I just need to collect the money from them and deliver the cats.

Are you doing this project yourself?

I'm mostly doing all the work myself. I have a few helpers. My mom is helping sell some. My district sales manager has sold quite a few. I am looking at businesses, because they usually make donations. I am going door to door.

How is the Humane Society of Southern Arizona helping?

They have cats set up in their office for people to purchase. They are also taking donations there--3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. People can call me as well. I am willing to pick up payments and deliver cats, as long as it is in Tucson.

How are you getting the word out about this project?

I'm doing press releases. I'm going business to business. I'm going to Realtor offices. I was on Fox 11 last Wednesday at noon. On Nov. 15, I will be at the Fashion Bug on Irvington Road and Interstate 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Why did you decide to do this?

I saw that the Humane Society was going to have to start charging a fee for people to leave animals, and I just thought people who can't afford the fee are just going to leave the animals on the side of the road. É I know it would probably even hinder me from helping a stray animal if I couldn't afford it. I don't want anyone to feel that they couldn't take their animal down there. The Humane Society has a good reputation of taking care of animals and trying to place them into homes.

How will the money you raise be used?

They have several funds this money can go for. They have one for wild cats. They have a program for people who get public assistance and can't pay to leave animals and other programs. However they need to use it, they can use it. If they want to divide it up among all the programs they have, that's up to them. I will let them decide how to use the funds.

Will you do this again next year?

Yes. If not for the Humane Society, then for somebody. But I'd like to do another one for the Humane Society because they've been very helpful. This has been a good learning experience for me. My goal would be to do a fund-raiser a month and help someone different each month. There are lots of charities out there.