Scrap metal is good for a lot of things, including recycling, making money and keeping trash out of landfills.
In Hartford, Connecticut, it’s also good for cats. For the past 24 years, Willie Ortiz has spent his days collecting scrap metal and his nights feeding feral cats with food he buys with the scrap metal proceeds.
The retired welder, now 77, makes the rounds in his pickup truck, laying out food, building winter shelters and shuttling cats to the vet to get spayed and neutered. He’s become a local institution, and has just been proclaimed a Go Fund Me Local Hero.
A friend of Willie’s helped him start the online fundraising effort two years ago, and cat-lovers have chipped in $40,000 since then to augment the scrap metal income. He figures cat food alone runs about $40 a day.
When he finds kittens or a cat he thinks can be domesticated, he’ll try to arrange adoptions. But for the rest, he’s out there every night, except when it snows more than three inches.
“I don’t want them getting their bellies wet and cold,” he says. “But I’ll go the next night and feed them double.”