Martinsville resident Allison Marie Wildman was an animal lover—and following her death in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, her family just wanted to honor that while helping others.
From there was born the Allison Marie Wildman Foundation, which raises money and gives 33 percent for food and care of animals at various shelters and other opportunities. The rest of the money goes to local food banks and other charities that are not heavily funded by corporations, according to Wildman’s mother, June.
“Allison loved animals, and this foundation is in memory of her,” Wildman said. “It is all about taking care of animals.”
And recently, the foundation donated $2,500 to the Somerset County K-9 Unit, something it does every year.
“A few years back, they were going to eliminate the K-9 unit because the county did not have the budget to feed them,” Wildman said. “I was friendly with one of the sheriffs, and we stepped in and began donating money each year for food and veterinary bills for the K-9 dogs.”
Since then, Wildman said, the foundation has been donating money to the county’s K-9 unit each year, although the amount varies based on how much they have managed to raise over the year.
“The donation will go into an account, and be used in the near future for K-9 training equipment, dog food and future veterinary expenses,” said Capt. Tom Pino, of the sheriff’s office K-9 unit.
As part of the donation, Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano presented Wildman and her husband, Arthur, with a Sheriff’s Recognition Award.
The foundation, in total, has donated about $10,000 to the K-9 unit over the past 10 years.
In addition, the foundation gives money to the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter; Paws, in Colonia, which takes care of cats; Second Chance in New Brunswick, which takes in animals that are being euthanized; Milestone Horse Farm that rescues horses that have been abandoned; and Dreams Come True that allows for children who are disabled to ride horses.
A few years ago, Wildman said, she spoke with the police department in Manville, asking if they needed money for their K-9 dog.
“They said they needed a vest for the dog, and they gave us the name of another officer in South Bound Brook, and, between the three of us, we bought vests for the dog,” she said. “The officer in South Bound Brook got in touch with a company in Canada that makes vests for dogs that are bulletproof and stab proof.”
Wildman said the vests cost $2,000 each, and some were purchased through the foundation for South Bound Brook, Manville, Readington and the Union County K-9 Unit where they train these dogs.
“The company from Canada sent representatives, and each dog was fitted, so the vest fits the dog perfectly,” she said. “And inside the vest was embroidered, ‘In Memory of Allison Marie Wildman, 9/11/2001.’”
Wildman said her daughter was a definite animal lover.
“We had two dogs and a cat, and she started riding horses when she was 7 years old,” she said. “There’s a statue at Blessed Sacrament Church [in Martinsville] of St. Francis, and it has our two dogs holding our cat. It’s in memory of Allison.”
And the foundation—run by Wildman, her husband, her children and other relatives—was able to give out $40,000 this year.
Wildman said the foundation manages entirely on donations from people.
“We try and give to places that Allison would like,” Wildman said. “They are places that are not heavily funded by corporations and that our little bit of money would go for something they really need.”
Wildman said some of the organizations allow disabled children a chance to ride horses, while others take in abandoned animals.
But no matter what, Wildman said, the goal is to help those organizations that help animals.
“This is all about trying to help where we can,” she said. “And we are doing what Allison would want.”
To donate money to the foundation, checks can be sent to PNC Bank in Bridgewater, which is collecting the funds. Money can be send to PNC Bank, c/o Allison Marie Foundation, 454 Route 28, Bridgewater.