Grayling magnet maker supports animals and children in foster care
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Whether with kittens or kids, Grayling resident Angela Piehl strives to offer her support and a strong connection.
Piehl has been a mainstay at the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter as a volunteer since it opened on the former Crawford County Fairgrounds property nearly 11 years ago.
She is affectionately known as the “Cat Whisperer” for working with, caring for, and socializing the kittens and cats.
“I can’t walk the dogs because they pull me and push me down,” Piehl said.
Cheryl Postma, the director for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, said Piehl helps out in the lobby and prepares the cats for adoption.
“She’s usually one of the first ones to handle baby kittens when they’re here and gets to hold them before anybody else,” Postma said. “They usually trust her pretty quickly. Angela is just part of the place.”
Piehl not only nurtures the cats at the shelter, but has provided a home for four of her furry friends.
“They’re fun to play with,” she said. “I like to take them home.”
Over the last six years, Piehl has made and sold magnets at the shelter to raise money to support the animals. The magnets are made with plastic beads, which are bonded together after they are heated with an iron by her mother, Kathy Piehl.
Angela’s interest in making the magnets was sparked by doing other beadwork. She prints pictures of characters she wants to make off the internet. A template is then created to configure with the colorful patterns for the magnets.
“She can make just about anything you want,” Kathy said. “You can ask for a superhero or woodland creatures – we can find anything.”
It takes Angela between 15 minutes to 45 minutes to make a magnet, depending on the size and intricacy.
“Some days she will work hours and she’ll do one after another,” Kathy said.
This year, the magnets have kept Angela busy since she couldn’t participate with a local Special Olympics swimming team because she had surgery on her ankle.
Over the past six years, Angela has raised $700 for the animal shelter.
“It goes to the animal shelter to help the cats and dogs for their food and their medicine,” she said.
More recently, Angela branched out and started selling magnets to support the Wellspring Lutheran Services in Gaylord. The agency provides child and family services, overseeing foster care homes and provides case management to foster care children.
Angela’s sister-in-law, Melissa Piehl, is a supervisor for the agency’s families first and family prevention program, which aims to help keep children safely with their families and to avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care.
The sale of Angela’s magnets to Wellspring Lutheran Services employees generated $55 to purchase clothing for children placed in foster care.
Shannon Johnson, a licensing worker for the agency, said the clothing is a big help when children go into foster care on an emergency basis.
“When children are immediately placed in foster care, they don’t have a lot to start with, so this gives them a little bit of stuff when they go into a home,” Johnson said.
Angela personally went on a shopping spree to buy clothing and pajamas for the children in February. She got more bang for her buck by purchasing clothing through clearance sales.
Some funds were left over for the next shopping outing.
“I think it is a wonderful thing that she’s doing,” Johnson said. “As soon as we have another sum of money, we’ll pick Angela up and go shopping.”
Angela particularly likes making magnets that correspond with the seasons and holidays, such as Halloween-themed magnets and the Grinch for Christmas. Minions have also been a top seller.
“They’re fun to do and I like to help the animal shelter out and I like to help the kids out, too,” Angela said.
Angela purchases all the supplies for the magnets with her own money. She sells small ones for 50 cents and the larger ones for $2 to keep the money coming in for the causes she supports.
“She is all about selling and getting the money to people,” Kathy said. “It’s a hobby, too, so that counts for something.”
Postma said Angela’s magnet sales bring in a steady source of funds to supplement the donations and animal shelter fund-raisers.
“Some people have quite a few of Angela’s magnets for different seasons and different holidays,” said Postma, who said she purchases magnets that look like vegetables. “It goes into the operations to buy food and veterinary care.”