A fundraiser sale to benefit Toni's Ponies horse rescue in Kingston kicked off today.
The sale runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., today through Sunday, at Kingston Mercantile & Marine, 10943 NE State Highway 104, Kingston.
Kitsap Scene wrote earlier this month about the horse rescue's effort to raise money to purchase the property it's located on so it can continue operating. The rescue takes in horses at risk for slaughter and wild horses.
"So far the sale is going great," Toni's Ponies founder Toni Houck said this morning.
The rescue held a pre-sale last night for friends and family that raised $6,144. "Today we're doing booming business; there's a lot of people already here to support us," Houck said.
Houck said the community has rallied around their efforts to raise money to save the rescue. Local restaurants such as Cookie Creations by Wendy, The Cup & Muffin, Los Tres Compadres, and The Grub Hut have all offered to feed Houck and her crew during the fundraising sale, she said. Plus, members of the community have offered to make meals.
"It's incredible," Houck said. "We brought this rescue up from nothing and it's a dream come true for us, so it's really, really heartfelt that everybody stands behind us in this."
In addition to the sale at Kingston Mercantile, the horse rescue has a GoFundMe fundraiser set up that so far has raised more than $25,000. People have also sent in checks; that money hasn't all been added up yet, Houck said, but will be put online soon.
"We are super excited about everything that's going on," she said. "Things are moving forward. We're excited about that. Things are looking up for us and all these horses that we choose to rescue and save their lives and continue to do our thing."
People have donated some "super neat" things to the sale — including cars, boats and Kingston Big Chairs, Houck said.
The fundraising efforts have created an incredible amount of awareness for the horse rescue, Houck said.
"Before, we would get four hits on our website a month, and now since this has been on the news ... we've gotten right around 4,000 [views] in the last few weeks on our website," she said. "I mean we're getting over 1,000 a week ... which is incredible for us. We're getting people from New Zealand, and Vermont — just all over the world."
Horse lovers are a passionate bunch, Houck said, and that's reflected in many of the donations Toni's Ponies is receiving.
"Some of the donations we receive by mail are people from way out of state that say, 'We love what you do; keep on doing it.' They're so generous," she said. "We get generous donations of $5 up to $500. And every little bit counts. We really do appreciate every cent."
She said she recognizes that people are digging deep to give to the rescue.
"We all work hard," she said. "We work paycheck to paycheck and I know sometimes I have $20 ... and it's a lot for me to give that $5 out of my last $20, but these people are giving us that money. That's heartfelt. We have people that work just as hard for their money as all of us do. And without these donations, we could never, ever do what we do. As a waitress two days a week, I certainly don't make enough right now. Without them we are nothing."
The fundraising sale for Toni's Ponies is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 31 - April 3, at Kingston Mercantile & Marine, 10943 NE State Highway 104, Kingston.