November 23, 2009 12:45 PM

The holidays are here, and while many of us are excited to shower our pets with fun presents, it’s sad to think about the animals living in shelters who won’t have the happiest of holidays. But because of three very special anipals, the season is looking a bit brighter for lucky cats and dogs in six select shelters, thanks to the first-ever Santa Paws Drive.

A few months ago, Dorian Wagner of decided she wanted to attempt something like the Toys for Tots campaign, but online, and for furry friends. However, she didn’t exactly know what to do – or how to start! So she called on Salina Gannon of and Twitter #pawpawty founder Lynn Haigh (@frugaldougal) for help with toy donations and fund-raising, respectively.

The next step? Reaching out online, of course! Aware of Haigh’s wildly successful Twitter pawpawties – real-time online gatherings for pet Tweets – Wagner figured that through the Internet, the three could drum up support and donations for their cause. And the Santa Paws Drive was born.

“It was a big undertaking,” Haigh admits to “We had to plan and design it all ourselves.” The three worked together to create their Web site, started a Twitter page and got the ball rolling. “We picked three charities we knew personally and selected the others based on nominations and recommendations from pals on Twitter,” Haigh says. “We wanted to help animals all around the world, so we’re supporting three in the U.S., one in the U.K., one in Canada and one in Australia.”

The women – who’ve never met or even spoken on the phone – are hoping to raise at least $3,600, to be divided among the six shelters. For those who don’t want to donate money, there’s the option to donate toys through “We’re hoping to have a few personal visits to these shelters so we can meet the animals we’re helping,” explains Haigh.

To make things fun, the trio has sponsored all sorts of events through Twitter, like mini pawties, giveaways, a “power hour” full of trivia and prizes and more. “The support from the animal community has been fantastic,” says Haigh. “And to think the three of us are in England, Florida and California. It just shows what’s possible when people work together. It’s pawpower!”

How are you helping less-fortunate animals this holiday season? Tell us in the comments below!

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