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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Academics & Research

Students create home-bound senior pet food campaign

Avery Pham, and Charnee Collier, students in Emery's public relations class, pose in front of the donation box outside the Valenti office,

Avery Pham and Charnee Collier, students in Emery’s public relations class, pose in front of the donation box outside the Valenti office. | Photo courtesy of Alexandra Doyle

Students in Mike Emery’s Principals of Public Relations class won’t take a typical final next week.

Instead of assigning a usual final, Emery had his class create a PR campaign called Cougar Paws for the Cause for a program called aniMeals on Wheels, which delivers pet food to home-bound seniors with pets. Each group’s goal is to get 20 bags of food donations and educate the local community about an overlooked problem.

“A lot of people don’t know about the initiative,” Emery said.“People usually don’t think about the seniors who are home-bound who have pets. Sometimes their own family is their pets, and they can’t get out shopping for them. It’s a problem.”

AniMeals on Wheels has over 600 clients in with approximately 1,100 pets. To feed them, the program needs to supply 96,000 pounds of food per year. The project was started by Interfaith ministries, who had already organized the Meals on Wheels campaign to those seniors.

Emery has been collecting donations for aniMeals on Wheels since 2012, but this year he began to utilize his PR class to spread its message. He tasked them with creating small campaigns using PR tools, which he believes is necessary for an organization that might not be on most people’s radars.

As part of her final exam, public relations senior Sara Hoffman and her group created a press release, feature story, video and flyer to promote the food drive for aniMeals on Wheels.

“We learned how to work on an entire campaign project on a short deadline,” Hoffman said. “We worked with a group of extremely diverse people who often butted heads, but in the end we came out with a great product that we were able to apply to the real world.”

Another student in Emery’s class, journalism and clarinet performance senior Alexandra Doyle, said she is thankful the class tied together her love of animals and making change in the community.

“I’m glad that Emery chose aniMeals on Wheels for us to support,” Doyle said. “Animal welfare is a cause that’s very near and dear to my heart. Some of these seniors who benefit from this program may not have friends or relatives that they visit with regularly, so their relationship with their animals are often essential to the health and happiness of these seniors.”

While the student groups have been competing against each other, they are united in the dual goal of getting a good grade and helping the cause. Doyle believes that the unorthodox final has helped her understand the entire field more.

“Most final projects are just exams or research papers that have no use beyond reiterating course material, but this has given our class a chance to use the skills we’ve learned in the course to make an actual difference,” Doyle said.

Donations for the campaign run through Thursday and can be dropped off at a box outside the Valenti School of Communication entrance or in Emery’s office in room 129 at the E. Cullen Building.

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