Update (Dec. 30): BARCS announced Wednesday that Matt and Maria Wieters will match up to $20,000 in donations to the shelter, doubling the amount they initially pledged. The shelter reached the initial $10,000 mark in donations Tuesday. This has been reflected in the article below.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters made sure his furry friends weren't left out of the gift-giving this holiday season, announcing that he and his wife, Maria, will match donations to Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter through the end of the year.
The Wieters family, who has a rescue German shepherd named Millie, had initially planned to match each donation dollar for dollar up to $10,000, BARCS announced last week.
"Matt and Maria understand that the cost to run BARCS each day is enormous—that’s why they are heading up this holiday match," BARCS wrote in a Facebook post, adding that the shelter currently has more than 300 pets that need homes.
When the shelter reached the $10,000 donation mark Tuesday, the Wieterses decided to "keep the community giving momentum going" by doubling the amount they would match, BARCS communication director Jennifer Brause said in an email.
"The Wieters family was so inspired by this life-saving year at BARCS and all the generous donations this past week, that they have now pledged $20,000 to energize the community to give," BARCS said in a statement.
As of Monday afternoon, BARCS had raised about $6,000 since the announcement, said Jennifer Brause, the organization's executive director.
"This specific match was a complete surprise," Brause said, adding that this was the first time a person of prominence had offered BARCS such a match. "This was something brand new for us, so we were really excited."
The Wieterses are no stranger to helping out BARCS. About five years ago, after seeing everything that goes on at the shelter, Maria asked to meet with Brause.
Maria later came back with approval for proceeds from the Orioles Pet Calendar to support the shelter, Brause said.
She now serves on the organization's board of directors.
"She just understands everything that's going on here," Brause said. "The Orioles organization as a whole has been very supportive of BARCS."
About 40 percent of BARCS' operating costs come from a city grant, which covers some office and kennel basics, Brause said. The other 60 percent come from donations, which pay for essentials such as medications, vaccinations, food and litter.
"It's all directly going to result in life-saving. It truly does," Brause said.
You can donate to BARCS online or by mail to 301 Stockholm St., Baltimore, MD 21230. The Wieterses will match donations through Dec. 31.
And check out pets available for adoption at Baltimore-area shelters here.