Meshoppen Cat Rescue Benefits from Crockpot Cookoff Event

Meshoppen Cat Rescue president Paula Caines (top, center) congratulates crockpot chefs Twyla Caines (left) and Chantel Bennett for their People’s Choice wins at the second Crockpot Pot Luck Cook-off held on Feb. 19 at the Highway Inn. Volunteer servers at the Crockpot Cook-off to benefit the Meshoppen Cat Rescue included Jen Fauver (below, left), Shannon Gates and (not pictured) Alan Carey.

More than $3,200 was raised recently to assist with operations at Meshoppen Cat Rescue. A record 18 crocks containing a variety of concoctions were offered up to guests of the second Crockpot Pot Luck Cook-off held at the Highway Inn in Tunkhannock. Approximately 80 guests came and went during the afternoon of Feb. 19 to cast their luck for a wide variety of raffle prizes, sample food and vote for their favorites while music spanning decades and genres completed the party atmosphere.

Food ran the gamut from soups, stews, and goulash to meatballs, pulled chicken, and apple cobbler. In the end, the People’s Choice winners were Twyla Caines and Chantel Bennett, Caines taking first and third prizes with her Sausage Tortellini Soup and Zupa Mary Nowana, respectively. Bennett employed a traditional family recipe for what she named Mama’s Meatballs to capture second place. They were offered cash prizes but donated them back to the Cat Rescue.

Prizes ranged from themed baskets, collectibles, and hand-crafted items to a wide variety of gift certificates from Wyoming County businesses. Many regular volunteers from the Rescue assisted with the raffle and wherever else they were needed. The event was first staged in 2020 but was postponed for two years during the height of the pandemic. Key coordinators included Rick Hiduk (below, left) and Mike Houser, with Houser canvasing area business for prizes and Hiduk handling promotion and emcee duties.

Meshoppen Cat Rescue president Paula Caines thanked those in attendance for their support, the many people who worked behind the scenes to put together baskets and sell tickets, individuals and business owners who provided up-front cash donations, those who selflessly put in time at the shelter in Black Walnut to keep the facility clean and the cats healthy, and Highway Inn co-owner Jerry Dente for allowing the use of his establishment on a Sunday afternoon.

Caines explained that there are currently 120 felines at Meshoppen Cat Rescue, ranging from kittens to adult cats, the latter of which are especially difficult to re-home despite having years of love and purrs left in them for the right pet lovers. The shelter is operating at maximum capacity due to an increase in surrenders and drop-offs during the pandemic. There were also adoptable cats at the fundraising event, one of which was adopted by a patron, pending completion of the application and background clearance.

Meshoppen Cat Rescue is a certified 501 C3 nonprofit organization and no-kill shelter with an active Facebook page. Due to the shelter being full, no new cats are being taken at this time. To make an appointment to visit the facility and meet adoptable cats, interested readers are encouraged to call 570-877-9624 or send an email to


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