BARRIE, ONT. -- It was supposed to be a backup plan.

A bottle drive to help care for the animals at Silver Willow Farm Rescue has been such a resounding success, the Mansfield facility is going to keep it going.

Silver Willow relies on donations collected at open houses to cover the $5,000 monthly cost of feeding caring for and feeding 250 including horses, cows, goats, sheep, and chickens. Those open houses have been cancelled because of COVID-19.

Silver Willow volunteers have been hitting the road to collect beer, wine, and liquor containers from homes and businesses. They also invited the public to drop empties off at the farm.

So many empties were rounded up, Silver Willow says that last weekend were able to nearly fill the trailer of an 18-wheeler with cans alone. That wasn’t the Beer Store’s only pickup from the farm.

“It was exceptionally successful,” senior volunteer Andrea Lettner said of the bottle drive. “We are so pleased and so grateful to everyone who has donated to our farm.”

Lettner estimates the farm is handing over between $6,000 and $8,000 in empties.

“We think it’s been a lot of COVID activities that have led to this, and maybe some hoarding…and they’ve decided to give up their savings to us,” Letnner says.

Silver Willow’s volunteer committee will re-evaluate the bottle drive in the fall.

If you want to help Silver Willow Farm Rescue, you can visit the farm’s website.