This Nov. 21,2020, it was a little quieter holiday shopping than usual, all the customers were masked, and the greeters were confined behind the Bradford County Humane Society table; but Tops in Wysox carried on with its annual Shop for Pete and Penny event with enthusiasm and cheer.
This year’s event is the 23rd annual Shop for Pete and Penny that Tops employee Ardyth Gressel has masterminded and coordinated for the benefit of the shelter animals at Bradford County Humane Society. Twenty-three years ago it started from “Eat for Pete,” where people would gather at a spaghetti or chicken and dumplings dinner held as a benefit for BCHS.
Some people expressed their dismay that they couldn’t make the dinner, so Shop for Pete at P & C in Sayre was added. For a few years Eat for Pete was held on a Thursday in November, and on the following Saturday people would “Shop for Pete” at the P & C.
Each year a different shelter dog would assume the role of Pete. Every year these events filled the shelter with pet food for the winter.
In 2010 when Tops purchased the P & C, Ardyth Gressel moved over to Tops and asked the manager of the new local Tops if she could keep the event going. She got approval for that, and it carried on.
Gentle protests from cat lovers led the name of the event to change from Shop for Pete (a dog) to Shop for Pete and Penny (a cat and a dog). In 2013, Tops manager, Bob Clinton, told Ardyth that he didn’t see why the event should only be a one day event, that it should start a week in advance of the final day, where the BCHS employees and volunteers came to Tops to give out lists and to give information about the shelter. Ardyth was happy to agree.
Then he suggested that not only the Wysox store should participate. Ardyth agreed to that, too. Since 2013, the event has been held in all four Tops stores in Bradford County.
Usually the week starts with an announcement from the Commissioners about Shop for Pete and Penny. Then collection bins are set up at all the locations and everything is collected at the Wysox Tops finale on Saturday.
This year as usual, BCHS volunteers were present to listen to all the stories about pets that people were willing to share, and many people donated money and food to the shelter. Tops donated four boxes of detergent, and hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food.
Everyone agreed; companion animals are some of the best friends and family we ever have in our lives and they deserve the best.