In December, Stephanie Lindquist-Johnson of Roeland Park, Kan., placed a post on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social media site, seeking unwanted foam coolers, the type often used to ship steaks or holiday hams.
“The response was incredible,” said Lindquist-Johnson, 43, a web designer for Waddell & Reed, an asset management company in Overland Park. People from around northeast Johnson County were soon dropping off coolers at her house.
Then, with her son’s help, Lindquist-Johnson turns them into shelters for feral cats – or “anything with four paws.”
“I feel so sorry for all the animals out there. It’s been so cold,” Lindquist-Johnson said.
Phillip Johnson, a soon-to-be 6-year-old, is a kindergartener at St. Agnes Catholic School who loves animals. She and her son volunteer at Another Chance Cat Rescue in Waldo.
“He’s dying to go back to the cat rescue and help,” Lindquist-Johnson said.
To make the shelters, Lindquist-Johnson glues the pieces of the coolers together and cuts out portholes. After the glue dries, the coolers are tightly covered in heavy-duty, plastic black trash bags secured with duct tape. The house is then stuffed with straw or hay. The whole process takes about an hour per house.
“I’m kind of addicted to making them and we’re having fun with it,” she said. “I’ll keep making them as long as I don’t go into terrible debt.”
A couple of people who read the Next Door posts have donated cash to the cause. “One person donated $40 and another $50,” Lindquist-Johnson said.
After creating 33 feral cat houses, Lindquist-Johnson posted a photo of her and her son on Nextdoor and offered them for free. Nearly all of the shelters have been donated back to people in the community who will use them for cats, raccoons and even opossums.
There were many positive comments from neighbors about her efforts, including one from Natosha Halling of Upper Fairway, who commented, “Stephanie = A cat’s best friend!”
Jose Ramirez of Crestview wrote: “Atta girl!!! Great and wonderful contribution to nature. You have a good heart. The world needs more like you. You are wonderful and kind.”
Lindquist-Johnson hopes people will continue donating their foam coolers, which aren’t picked up by curbside recycling.
Jennifer Franken of Roeland Park commented, “Love this! Love that animals are being helped and the landfills aren’t being filled with Styrofoam!”