ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Eric Matwijow, the owner of Hammers Lot in Orchard Park, said he wasn't expecting the flood of families that came to watch fireworks at Highmark Stadium.
"The lots here were just car after car after car. As you can see, the restrooms are only about halfway through the lot. This whole lot was filled up. They actually opened the employee lot behind me. I just thought it was tremendous," Matwijow said.
Matwijow decided to help Hamburg Mutts for Freedom by letting families park in his lot for fireworks.
"It just kind of started off as a joke. $4.99. The stadium's charging $5. Next thing you know, I have 20 cars, then 30 cars," Matwijow said.
He raised $500 in just one night for the dog rescue that gave him his pup, Allie.
"So in a way the fireworks are helping the dogs even though they're petrified of them," Matwijow said.
The donation comes at a time when rescue work is plentiful, but money is not.
"We are seeing it beyond exponentially. We have people reaching out, multiple a day begging to take in their dogs," Autumn Urbaniak, a volunteer for Hamburg Mutts for Freedom, said, "We couldn't do any in person fundraising. We did try to do online basket raffles. We did a couple small online events that brought in some. It probably wouldn't even be half of what we normally would be doing with our events out in the public."
Urbaniak said the donation saved one dog's life.
"We can pull that dog from Georgia that's next in line to be euthanized. We can say we're going to take that dog. We have the money we're going to bring him up. We can save his life. We can put him in a home here until we give him his forever home with his family," Urbaniak said.
Matwijow said he plans to continue to raise money for Hamburg Mutts for Freedom throughout concerts and football season.