Hurricane season notwithstanding, two Grand Lake 50-something 'girls' have decided to test their survival wits to champion two good causes-the kids and the critters of Delaware County. Monkey Island realtors Cari Williams and Kelly Whitehead came up with their latest FUNdraising scheme one evening after having a typical Island conversation about whose skills at survival on an uninhabited island would be the best.

Williams and Whitehead will be dropped off at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, September 22nd, on the uninhabited Patricia Island on Grand Lake with twelve survival tools and the clothes on their backs. The tools include water, jerky, a tent, sleeping bags, first aid kit, fishing gear, a knife, a box of matches, marine biodegradable toilet tissue, a shovel, a flashlight and a deck of cards. And they're asking people to pledge by the hour or the day for as long as they stay to help raise funds to keep the animal shelter running and to provide clothing and holiday gifts for needy children in Delaware County.

“We're even taking pledges by the minute,” Williams said. “Some of our friends don't think we're tough enough to do this!”

Whether it's playing cards, selling real estate or riding waverunners, these girls like competition, and they're not afraid of sacrificing creature comforts if it will help the causes they're passionate about. Cari Williams, mother of five and grandmother of nine, is in it for the kids. Kelly Whitehead, mother of two cats, several horses, and any animal that needs assistance anywhere-at any time-is in it for the critters.

She has served on the Board of the Grove and Grand Lake Humane Society for years and is saddened by the conditions and the overwhelming demand.

“We're at capacity at the Shelter and, as a no-kill facility, we have no choice but to turn animals away. It's overwhelming. And the need is growing. As economic pressures rise on struggling families, many more pets will become homeless and neglected,” Whitehead said.

The Shelter has some animals that have spent the majority of their lives at the facility. And daily they are turning animals away.

“There are a lot of people who are trying to do the responsible thing-rescuing animals off the highway or who have been abandoned and neglected, or families who simply can't afford to keep their pets anymore, and they bring them to the shelter,” Whitehead said. 'But we can't take them unless we can raise more funds to shelter and feed them.'

The Shelter also sponsors low cost spay and neuter clinics throughout the year to assist the community in limiting the population of unwanted dogs and cats. And if families can't afford to make any payment, the Shelter will work to find a way to provide the services.

Williams devotes her time to civic organizations, and is currently president of the Monkey Island Association, which encourages economic development and tourism. She foresees the current economy this winter will be one of the toughest in many years for lots of families.

“With rising fuel prices, the dollars just won't stretch. And when you can't afford to buy gas and food, the extras go by the wayside-for many, that means no Christmas this year,” Williams said.

Williams became involved in fundraising for the Island Toy Fund last year, when Island businessman and friend Larry Duke decided every child in Delaware County should know the joys of Christmas. The program evolved from an effort to purchase bicycles for young children to purchasing turkeys and food stuffs for more than a hundred families at Thanksgiving and collecting more than $17,000 to purchase clothing, shoes and toys for more than 360 children in Delaware County.

DHS provided them with ages, clothing sizes, a “wish list” or interests of hundreds of children-no names, of course-and the group literally “shopped until they dropped.”

“We've worked really hard to meet the need,” Williams said. “Not a single child asked for an extravagant gift-three teenagers asked only for pillows and blankets.”

The Island group's goals were to provide something for every deserving child in Delaware County last year, but they couldn't quite get there.

“We were devastated when we realized a week before Christmas that we could only meet half the need,” Williams said. “So this year we're starting earlier with our fundraising, trying to be more innovative, and willing to get outside our own comfort zone to benefit some really important people and pets.”

Funds raised by Survival Patricia Island will be shared equally by the two projects and can be made to the Humane Society of Grove and Grand Lake, c/o Kelly Whitehead, 29901 South 567 Road, Monkey Island, OK 74331.