The Griff Gives Back campaign is back for its eighth consecutive year. This annual fundraiser collects pet food for animals in the Des Moines metro.
Erin Bell, the Associate Director of Marketing and the Live Mascot Program has been running this event for eight years now, starting with the first one early in Griff I’s tenure.
“I was looking for ways to differentiate him (Griff I) from the Beautiful Bulldog winner and that dog’s temporary role during the Drake Relays,” Bell said. “At the beginning of the live mascot program, there was a great deal of confusion regarding the Beautiful Bulldog versus Griff. I was trying to create something for him to ‘own’ that would distinguish him from the winner of the cape and crown.”
The campaign was started as a way for Griff to help less fortunate dogs (and their humans) that rely on pet food pantries, with the donations going to The Pet Project Midwest. But the project wasn’t always a success.
“The first year we did it, we got less than 300 pounds of food. It was a total bust. I was determined to make it much more successful in its second year, and it was,” Bell said. “I had one person ask for my address so they could send food, even though they lived in Delaware. I received their donation at my house and Griff posted about it. I immediately got literally hundreds of requests for my address from people in the same situation – they wanted to help but lived all over the world.”
In the second year, Bell received over 8,000 pounds of food on her front porch, so they had to borrow a truck from the facilities at Drake to move it to The Pet Project Midwest. They ended up using storage containers, such as UNITS of Central Iowa containers, on campus ever since then, and that address is shared as the shipping destination for those wanting to send food.
UNITS of Central Iowa has just been one of the many partners that work with Bell and, now, Griff II on this project.
“Bone-A-Patreat has always supported this project in a huge way, taking Griff Gives Back food orders over the phone and on their website and then delivering the food for free to Griff on campus,” Bell said. “They have also worked with their distributors to secure large donations, including an incredibly generous offer by Fromm Family Foods to match donations of Fromm Classic dog food by giving us one bag for every bag purchased.”
This event is a month-long event that leads up to the Beautiful Bulldog Contest and the Drake Relays. It allows for anyone to donate to the cause, whether they are a Drake University student or a member of the community.
Princess Hart, a senior at Drake University, said that this campaign is a great way to help the community.
“I think that this campaign is a great cause and not something that you see everyday. I am so glad that we are able to do something like this for the Des Moines community and an added perk is that it is such a cute campaign as well,” Hart said.
This campaign has helped to raise over 86,000 pounds of pet food over the last eight years, with the goal for this year being 15,000 pounds, the same as last year.
As of April 9, the 2023 Griff Gives Back campaign had raised 2,418 pounds of pet food.