Volunteer Profile: Marion Markwell

by Lee Chambers

Marion Markwell and her son Todd Markwell


You’ve seen them around—at banks, at markets, garden centers, liquor stores. Those cans with the Dakin logo and endearing photos of cats and dogs that sit on checkout counters beckoning you to share your spare change. Did you ever wonder how that change finds its way to Dakin and what it all adds up to?

Those collection cans are the responsibility of volunteer Marion Markwell, who currently maintains 26 of them at banks, markets, and liquor stores throughout Hampshire and Franklin counties. And all that change does add up. In 2017 Marion brought in $3,345.44 to Dakin; in 2018 that total increased to $3,582.69.

“When I see a place that looks good, I ask them if they’ll put a can on their counter,” she says. “Usually they say ‘yes’ and if they say ‘no,’ that’s OK.” And she is very proactive about her donation cans. She mentioned one store that had the can buried so it wasn’t getting any donations. “They told me there was too much stuff on their counter, so I took it back!”

Marion estimates she began working with Dakin about 15 years ago when the late Marcia Pauly recruited her to help with the newsletter in the Leverett office. The two got the idea for placing cans with area merchants and Marion has been in charge of them ever since. It’s a perfect example of volunteers who put their ideas into action to help animals, and support Dakin’s efforts in so many ways.

Marion collects from the cans every couple of weeks and turns the largesse in to Dakin’s Development Office at the end of each month. She is assisted in her rounds by her son, Todd, who took on the responsibility when she went through a medical issue last year.

Marion says the most lucrative donation cans are those at area package stores. “Their customers are really generous!” she adds “Banks don’t collect anywhere near as much as the liquor stores!” Marion says everyone she meets is very generous and enthusiastic about supporting Dakin.

Marion grew up on a farm with “cats, dogs, and anything else you can think of.” Today she shares her Holyoke home with Lily, a 14-year-old Persian cat. When she lost two beloved Siamese years ago, she swore she would never have another cat, until her son—who also has Persians—introduced her to Lily, who “has a mind of her own but is lovable.”

Asked why she volunteers, Marion says “I love being able to help animals; anything for the animals. And Dakin is a great organization.”

So the next time you see one of those Dakin donation cans on a merchant’s counter, throw in your spare change. Marion Markwell will be sure it gets to Dakin and will be put to good use.  And for that, we are very, very grateful!


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