To help raise funds for C.A.R.E., the first annual Gift and Wine Fair will be held at Southshore Falls Ballroom in Apollo Beach.

C.A.R.E. (Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort), which has been in Ruskin for 20 years, is the only no-kill animal shelter in the south county for neglected, abused and unwanted cats and dogs.

Over the years, this 501(c)(3) charity has rescued and adopted out thousands of dogs and cats. Most of the animals that come to C.A.R.E. need just a few weeks of special care before they are ready for adoption into a good home. C.A.R.E. is unique in that other dogs and cats who are older or sick or have suffered extreme trauma become C.A.R.E. ambassadors, finding a special home at C.A.R.E. for the rest of their lives.

To help raise funds, C.A.R.E. will hold its first annual Gift and Wine Fair on Saturday, November 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Southshore Falls Ballroom, which is located at 5831 Cascade Falls Dr. in Apollo Beach.

Shoppers are asked to donate $10 for entry and all proceeds from the event will support the shelter. The first 50 shoppers will get a free shopping bag to carry the gifts purchased from 30 or more vendors, which will include jewelry, glass art, sports photographs, pet items, skin care and other gift items. There will also be raffles, a 50/50 and a wine pull.

Penny Smith is the current board president of C.A.R.E. “We decided to try some new fundraisers this year since we have a goal to raise $3 million for a new facility. We hope the Gift and Wine Festival will become an annual event. This is a great event to kick off your holiday gift shopping from over 32 vendors and also take advantage of the free wine tasting by Hugh Moore of PRP Wines.”

C.A.R.E. is open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. There are currently 15 dogs and 37 cats in residence, 13 of which are kittens. The shelter is currently full and it hopes to find homes for these animals.

“We offer a free tour of the facility to anyone who asks. We always have a need for more volunteers. Most volunteers work a three-hour shift per week, some do more,” said Smith.

For more information on the fair or C.A.R.E., call Smith at 645-2273 or visit

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Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.