Southern Utahn starts Facebook group, connects volunteers to nonprofits in need – St George News

ST. GEORGE — Southern Utahns who seek volunteer opportunities but are unsure where to go can connect with nonprofit organizations in need through Volunteering Southern Utah, a newly created Facebook group.

Volunteers at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George, Utah, Feb, 26, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George News

Inspired by her volunteer work at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, group administrator Christy Easdale created Volunteering Southern Utah with the primary goal to create a central location to connect volunteers with nonprofit organizations in need.

“We have so many volunteer opportunities locally, but it doesn’t seem like many are aware of a lot of the places that need help,” she said.

The new group is different from JustServe, a faith-based program sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that links volunteers to opportunities. According to the organization’s website, it does not discriminate based on “race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation in posting projects or in encouraging volunteers.”

Easdale, however, wanted to make sure no one was “missing out on much-needed volunteer work.”

Volunteer work

A rabbit at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George, Utah, July 11, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, St. George News

Easdale began volunteering with Hunny-Bunns after adopting a rabbit and researching how to care for him. She found the organization, which is housed in owner Tessa Chianne’s basement, where she learned proper rabbit care. The two kept in touch and Easdale would offer assistance with the rescue’s website, social media, and with cleaning and fundraising.

“Whatever she asks, I try to help with,” she said.

Chianne said those who volunteer gain education, “happiness and joy” from the experience.

“They can speak to other people in the community with … what they learned here and it hopefully will get those people to act,” she said.

While the project is in the early stages, Easdale said she’d like to reach out to additional nonprofits with which volunteers might connect. Any nonprofit organization is welcome to join the group, she added.

Child at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George News

Members can find a list of local organizations that typically need extra hands in a pinned post. Nonprofits listed include the Hurricane Library Washington County System, Because Animals Matter’s Orphaned Objects and RSQ.

Currently, the group has 84 members, but Easdale hopes the numbers will grow so volunteers can post their availability and organizations can post their needs, allowing each to find opportunities.

Easdale is floating a mentor program for group members to learn from veteran volunteers or those in nonprofit leadership roles. Many organizations also will teach willing volunteers. For instance, Hunny-Bunns teaches volunteers what they need to know about caring for rabbits.

Additionally, she said she would like to build a website and start a weekly newsletter to share information about volunteer opportunities.

Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue

Rabbits at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George, Utah, July 11, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, St. George News

Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue arranges adoptions of rescued and rehabilitated rabbits, all of which are spayed, neutered litterbox trained, vaccinated and microchipped. Chianne said rabbits typically are adopted in bonded pairs, but she also works with prospective owners to bond their current rabbits with recent adoptees.

Chianne first became involved in rabbit rescue about 22 years ago, after the death of her son’s guinea pig, she said. She saw the director of a rabbit rescue in Colorado on television and visited the nonprofit, which was also housed in a basement, where she adopted her first two rabbits.

She and her son began volunteering about three times a week and later took in fosters. Chianne soon was known for rescuing rabbits and was often approached by people who had or knew of animals in need, she said.

Chianne moved to St. George about six years ago. She was encouraged by her vet to open a rabbit rescue in Southern Utah because there was little available for rabbits and the pets are often “dumped.” Rabbits are the third most abandoned animals after cats and dogs, she added.

A rabbit at Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, St. George, Utah, July 11, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, St. George News

Hunny-Bunns currently cares for about 60 rabbits and welcomes volunteers to help clean cages and litter boxes and brush rabbits, said Chianne, adding that the organization has received a wide variety of support from children, teens, adults and individuals with disabilities.

The rescue primarily is funded by Chianne, who estimates she pays $500-$600 monthly, which doesn’t include medical care. The organization also raises funds to support its efforts in providing all the animals with proper veterinary care.

Recently, one of the nonprofit’s rabbits, named Mischonn, was found to have a cancerous tumor on her neck. Hunny-Bunns has asked its supporters to donate money on Facebook to cover her vet bills, which will include surgery.

Like many nonprofits, Hunny-Bunns also relies on donated supplies. For instance, Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue has an Amazon wishlist where those who wish to show their support can order needed items such as air purifiers and litter pans.

Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue volunteer Christyna Easdale holding a rabbit, St. George, Utah, July 11, 2022 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, St. George News

Easdale is trying to establish a foster network that Hunny-Bunns staff could call if it is at capacity, as space is limited. Those interested in fostering can indicate their interest by filling out the form on the rescue’s website.

Easdale said it’s been difficult finding individuals who are not only willing to foster but meet the rescue’s requirements. For instance, the animals available are house rabbits and do poorly outdoors, so those able to foster must also have indoor space available.

To learn more about Hunny-Bunns Rabbit Rescue, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Those interested in volunteering at various nonprofits searching for support can look for opportunities on the Volunteering Southern Utah Facebook page here.

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