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Whitby couple’s lights display helps give shelter animals a ‘meowy’ Christmas

Barb and Harry Piwerka have strung thousands of lights at their home on Fencerow Drive, and they're encouraging those who visit it to bring donations for the animals at the Humane Society. Jasmine Pazzano/Global News

If you’re looking for Barb and Harry Piwerka’s house, you won’t miss it — it’s the brightest one on their block.

They have strung more than 8,000 lights on the outside of their Whitby, Ont., home in hopes people will visit it and bring with them donations to the Humane Society of Durham Region.

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“We’ve always done Christmas lights,” said Barb, whose display also includes 10 hand-painted holiday figures. “We’ve always had people stopping at the house, trying to take pictures of our house, so we decided that we were going to let everybody else … show their appreciation of our Christmas lights.”

Piwerka is encouraging everyone who stops by their home on Fencerow Drive to bring pet toys and canned animal food, all of which the Piwerkas will be donating to the Humane Society in their town.

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Although the Piwerkas have no pets of their own, Barb volunteers at the Whitby, Ont., shelter and says, “Animals are very near and dear to our hearts.”

This is the third year they’ve gathered donations for the non-profit organization, and many people who visit have their own animal stories to tell. The Piwerkas’ 12-year-old neighbour, Sophia Jimenez Alvarez, donated food to the cause in honour of her dog, Jarocho, who passed away this year.

“Jarocho was … my best friend,” said Jimenez Alvarez, who used her allowance money to buy her donations. “I feel like I should give love to all the dogs and all the cats like I gave love to my dog.”

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The Humane Society says it appreciates generosity of any kind, but the manager of shelter operations at the Durham location says it rarely gets donations the size of the Piwerkas’. Last year, she said, they brought in so many donations, these filled seven SUVs.

“That’s absolutely amazing,” Danielle Johnson said. “This time of year, we could really use it.”

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