It was a plentiful Thanksgiving for a group of adorable rescue squirrels, who managed to feast on all their favorite nuts after their community came through with a massive donation of acorns.
Last week, the Carolina Wildlife Center in Columbia, South Carolina, posted a plea on their Facebook page saying they’d run out of acorns after taking in more than 900 squirrels this year. “They have wiped out our nut stash,” the post said. To fix the problem, the center encouraged families to get their kids to look for acorns over the Thanksgiving holiday, so the families could then donate the nuts to the rescue facility.
The center rescues and rehabilitates all kinds of wildlife, raising and releasing them back into the wild once they’re ready. As far as squirrels go, most of the ones they take in are grey, but they also have a lot of flying squirrels and an elusive white squirrel.
Executive director Jay Coles tells PEOPLE they always take in plenty squirrels, but had more than usual this year because of the effects of Hurricane Michael on the area.
“The storms have definitely had an impact. We had 100 squirrels come in in just two days after the hurricane came through. People bring them to us – they find them in the yard after a storm. Usually the nest has been destroyed and we have to take over for mama and raise them until they’re old enough to be released,” Coles says.
Part of that process means teaching the squirrels to how to find their own food and how to eat it.
That’s why the center needs acorns.
Coles says after he posted the acorn plea it took just four days for volunteers to bring more than the squirrels needed. Most do-gooders came with grocery bags full of acorns and one guy came to the center with an unexpected delivery.
“He pulled up in a pickup truck and he had this giant pool in the back and it was full of acorns,” Coles says.
The center and its squirrels have so many nuts now, Coles says they don’t need any more. They’ve packaged up some of excess donations to freeze, so that there will be enough acorns for the squirrels through the spring.
“Our volunteers are incredible,” Coles tells PEOPLE. “Every time we need them, they always step up and help us no matter what it is.”