'Giving Tuesday' a time to help others in need

By Fallon Silcox, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 7:08 AM EST

The holidays are a time for family, friends and giving.

  • Giving Tuesday
  • Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving - coming after Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Giving Tuesday officially kicks off the holiday charitable season

And today is Giving Tuesday, a term coined to officially kick off the start of the holiday charitable season.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Last year, more than $116 million was raised on Giving Tuesday in 70 countries.

One Tampa company, Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, is using the holidays to help families who have faced pet emergencies. 

The co-founder of Blue Pearl started Frankie's Friends in 1999 to has used the charity since then to help families. 

Heather Leynes of Tampa said the group helped her when her dachshund, Herschel, needed surgery. 

"Herschel is going to be five in January, we got him when he was a puppy," Leynes said. "He's like our kid. We don't have kids, so he's one of our three children we have, another dachshund and a beagle." 

Leynes said Herschel was fine one day and then had trouble walking the next. Herschel was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.

That's when Herschel had his first surgery.  

It was a success and just when the pooch seemed fine, he needed another surgery. 

This time, Herschel was worse and the Leynes were still paying off a $4,000 bill from the first surgery. 

"We couldn't really afford surgery, so that's how Frankie's Friends came about for us." she said. 

Frankie's Friends is a non-profit that helps families like the Leynes. 

Through donations, the group provides fund for families facing pet emergencies. The group has helped more than 2,000 families over the years. 

"They're like your kids," Leynes said of Herschel, whose second surgery was a success. "You want to do everything you can to make sure they're not in pain and make sure they have everything they need.

"I think Frankie's Friends is just an amazing organization."