Waggies By Maggie Creates Irresistible Dog Treats for a Cause
Dog treats for a cause.
Waggies by Maggie and Friends is a non-profit dog treat company whose mission is to employ people with intellectual disabilities.
Mary Ann Nolan, president, and Leigh Corrigan, co-founder, started the Wilmington, Del. business in Nov. 2007.
“It was prompted by a need — young adults coming out of high school or transition programs were sitting at home without jobs or they would get jobs that wouldn’t last because they didn’t have the proper support,” Nolan says.
Nolan says it’s the passion that keeps the organization going, and seeing the employees working and being happy with their jobs validates it.
Nolan has always been an advocate for people with disabilities, as her daughter is 29 years old and has Down syndrome. Corrigan’s daughter Maggie also has a disability.
The unique business brings employees and volunteers together for the daily operation of producing dog treats. The organization currently has a dozen bakers on payroll, four days a week, each making minimum wage. In addition to the workers on payroll, Nolan says Waggies has about 40 community volunteers.
“We’ve been very, very fortunate with community support,” Nolan says.
On any given day, the crew will crank out more than 3,000 dog bones.
“They are good workers— they do the packaging, learn the necessary skills that go into baking dog treats…I’m really, very proud,” Nolan says.
When the non-profit organization started, employees and volunteers would bake at two churches— St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and Aldersgate United Methodist Church. After outgrowing those spaces, the Elks Lodge allowed the organization to bake there.
“They opened their doors and let us use their kitchens because working in two places more than we could handle,” Nolan says.
Nolan says the business, now 9 years old, is slow and steady, but continues to make ends meet.
With the help of various organizations including the Longwood Foundation, Nights of Columbus and Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities, Waggies has made great strides.
Another organization that plays a significant role in Waggies is Service Source, an organization serving people with disabilities. Service Source makes the deliveries for Waggies.
The most recent company who has helped out the non-profit is Dogfish Head Brewery, who has donated spent grain to the company to add to the treats. After donating the grain, Waggies creates the treats and then DFH buys them back.
The exclusive treats made using DFH’s leftover supply is called ‘Dog Bark,’ and is only sold in the Milton brewery and online.
“We were delighted, surprised…we were thrilled!” Nolan says.
DFH’s Merchandise Manager, Desiree Foxwell, says the partnership is all about karma.
“When I found them, I was excited to see that Waggies is a locally owned business that supports and fosters a happy, healthy community! We believe in the good karma that comes with collaboration and always welcome the opportunity to work with friends in the non-profit world.”
According to Nolan, the most popular dog treat flavor is peanut butter. In addition to peanut butter, the organization also sells chicken and sweet potato flavored treats.
Initially, Nolan admits getting products into stores was challenging.
“We had to make cold calls — our best sales people are our bakers,” Nolan says
Now, the dog treat company sells its products in Wilmington, New Castle, Kent and Sussex County, as well as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois.
To learn more about Waggies by Maggie, visit waggies.org.