GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - The holidays are full of surprises and the Petco Foundation is surprising animal lovers across the nation.
Saint Frances is one lucky local animal shelter that received a $50,000 dollars from the Petco Foundation's Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign.
The campaign received 4,500 applicants, with animal success stories from all across the nation.
The story of Hope, a dog adopted from the Georgetown shelter, won the animal center the giant grant.
The Georgetown High School baseball team found their team mascot, Hope, homeless and hungry. They fed her every day on the field, and the loyal dog always returned to watch them play - but the day they'll never forget was the one when they found her with a stab wound to her back.
"You could see right through her, you could see how she was breathing and stuff almost, I don't know how she survived it," says team player James.
She survived because the boys brought her to Saint Frances Animal Center for care.
"Their will to help her and her will to survive and be a part of these boys' lives just touched our hearts," says Petco National Adoption Program Manager Karen Meader.
She says that's why the Petco foundation chose St. Frances as the $50,000 dollar winner, but to the team, the story of Hope means so much more-
"It's better to have good character than to be the best baseball player," says team coach Jason West.
The players say this is so much more than a baseball game, it's saving animals lives.
"Their overwhelming concern about this animal and just rallying around it to get it to St. Frances and then all the work that Saint Frances Animal Center did to care for this animal - you know going above and beyond," says Meader.
Saint Frances says it will continue to go above and beyond and you can help.
The shelter says the money will go towards making a comfortable and healthy home for the 301 dogs and cats. "It means the world to us, if you took a tour of our building, you can tell and see that we need a lot of help," says Wendy Goude, Saint Frances Executive Director.
You can donate supplies such as food and cleaning products, or volunteer but the best gift for the holiday season would be giving an animal "hope," for a new home.