AUGUSTA — Amy Buxton, advocate for the underdog, wouldn’t just be happy a new pet pantry is opening next month to help people in need feed and care for their pets.

She’d be right there volunteering, doing what she was known for before she died of a sudden illness last year – helping people and helping animals.

But despite the death of the Augusta native, Cony High School graduate and University of Maine nursing student at just 26 years old, her name will live on for a cause that was near and dear to her heart, said Buxton’s mother, Cony teacher Ann Buxton of Augusta.

“She’d be all for it, and right here volunteering,” Ann Buxton said of her daughter, who volunteered to transport dogs to safe homes for Almost Home Rescue, a Maine-based group that rescues and finds homes for stray, abandoned and surrendered dogs from high-kill shelters. “She would be very pleased so many people want to do something to help animals.”

The Amy Buxton Pet Pantry is scheduled to open April 12 at the South Parish Congregational Church at 9 Church St. in Augusta.

Work is underway to convert a small room in the basement of the church into a pet pantry to hold pet food and supplies such as cat litter and leashes. The items will be available at no charge to people who have financial hardships, senior citizens, people who are disabled or homeless and other pet owners in need.

Organizers of the pantry, and the leader of the local animal shelter, hope the pantry will help people who temporarily lack the money to feed and care for their pets so they can keep their beloved animals.

Hillary Roberts, executive director of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society, said financial troubles are a major reason some people have to surrender their animals to the shelter.

“They’re making what is often a heart-breaking decision,” Roberts said. “I think this is a great idea. It can be a way to help prevent people from having to give away pets, for not being able to afford food. There are some well-intentioned pet owners that struggle at times. But people’s lives change. They may struggle, financially, for a while, but then rebound and be able to keep their animals.”

Kim Perkins of Augusta, a church member helping to establish the pet pantry, said the pantry is meant to provide temporary assistance with pet food and supplies for people who need it.

It is not meant, she said, to encourage people without the financial means to go out and get a pet, thinking that others will provide food for their new animal.

The pantry will be open every second and fourth Saturday of the month, following the April 12 projected opening, initially for one hour, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Volunteers and donations are welcome, MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre said the church is contacting local pet stores to ask for donations, and hopes businesses in the area will put collection boxes out where employees and visitors can leave donations for the pet pantry.

Christ Church Episcopal in Gardiner opened its St. Francis of Assisi Pet Pantry in January 2012, and demand has been high for the food, toys, flea and tick medication and other pet items it provides to local residents who can’t afford those items on their own, said Martha Chase, parish administrator.

“From time to time our shelves are almost empty, because of the sheer need in the area,” Chase said. “There is certainly a demand. Thankfully there are a lot of generous people.”

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

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Twitter: @kedwardskj