Big Bend Wildlife receives surprise grant

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WTVY) - Christmas may be behind us, but it's always the season of giving in the Wiregrass.

The Central Alabama Community Foundation awarded 30 surprise grants to local non-profits, to celebrate its 30th anniversary this month.

And even wildlife can receive a helping hand. Like the animals at Big Bend Wildlife Sanctuary.

Husband and wife team John and Terry Morse have been a source of refuge for local wildlife for almost six years. Established in 1988, John and Terry decided to move the facility from Florida after Big Bend's original founded died.

"I wanted to be closer to my mom,” explains Terry. “And we wanted to be able to help a little bit more here in Alabama."

The first year in Alabama, Big Bend took in 150 animals. This year-- nearly 1500 animals.

"We can't save them all, but we can definitely ease their suffering and make them comfortable,” says Terry. “Whereas if they were in the wild, they might not have the supportive care they need."

For an organization that depends on donations, a $3000 grant was a welcome surprise on a seemingly ordinary day.

"We were out busy working in the pens and everything. Not thinking anything more than we were just going to do a tour,” recalls Terry, reflecting on the day CACF awarded them with the grant. “When they got out of the car, they came out with balloons, there were 5 or 6 ladies, they were all smiles, and this great big check and everything! We had no idea!"

John and Terry will put the money toward new education pens for their ambassador animals, and build a garage for equipment that maintains the property. Lofty dreams that seemed out of reach before the grant.

"You couldn't have given a better Christmas present to the wildlife,” says John.

And every penny helps them reach their ultimate goal: to release the animals back into the wild.

"We really appreciate it. And I know the animals really appreciate it,” reiterates John.

One more way Big Bend is giving back: when it's time to take down your Christmas tree, take it to them. They'll use the old trees in the wildlife's make-shift habitats.

"Hopefully someday when we get to the pearly gates, the guy upstairs-or the girl upstairs-will tell us that we did the right thing,” says John.