Jacksonville rallies behind animal rescue on verge of closure

Celestial Farms is raising money to keep its doors open. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville community is rallying behind an animal rescue farm on the brink of closing due to COVID-19.

Veronica Pasciuto, director of Celestial Farms, said the animal rescue needs donations to keep it afloat during the winter months. Pasciuto said the farm had to cancel many of its big events this year because of the pandemic, which impacted its bottom line.

“Our biggest problem is, fall is where we make the money to hold us over during our slow winter months where we barely have anything at all going on,” Pasciuto told News4Jax. “We have no birthday parties at all booked, there is nothing booked for January, so not having any income coming in for January and February is going to totally cripple us. There’s no reserves to hold over any longer.”

The animal rescue farm and education center is home to more than 200 animals.

“We teach people how to garden, how to make better eating choices, how to treat animals better,” she said. “They learn empathy, respect, compassion and they heal themselves while they are healing the environment. It’s for the animals and it’s for the people as well.”

To keep the farm’s doors open, Pasciuto is hoping to raise $50,000 by the start of the new year. Thanks to the community, Pasciuto said they are already more than halfway toward that goal.

“The community has been extremely vocalized that they want the farm to stay open. I mean, $50,000 was the minimum of what we needed and we’ve already hit $30,000,” said Pasciuto. “It’s the difference between being able to stay open and utter devastation. I mean devastation for the animals, for the people that come here and find solace here. It was just devastating to think that closing was a possibility and now it is so reassuring that the community wants us to stay open. I am overwhelmed.”

The money raised will go toward feeding the animals, making repairs and refinancing the farm. To donate online, visit the farm’s website.

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