Students host fundraisers to make a difference for homeless animals

Carly Mckinney

Students Helping Rescue Animals is a student organization that was started on Iowa State’s campus in February 2010. Allie Bender, senior in animal science, founded the club due to an interest in homeless animals she has had since adolescence.

“We always had animals from shelters, so I wanted to do something to help them,” Bender said.

Rather than waiting to get involved, Bender wanted to make a difference now. She started the club with a vision of three pillars: volunteerism, fundraising and education. She and the club’s current president, Andrea Birkeland, junior in animal science, both agree that these three pillars are the most important ways to aid animals in shelters.

The club was formed with about five members in the beginning. Through fliers and advertisement, Bender spread the word about her new club and at the first meeting was pleasantly surprised with a turnout of about 40 people. Now, the group’s mailing list has more than 300 names on it.

“The transformation is really interesting, actually,” Bender said. “I never really expected it to be this big and wasn’t prepared for it to get this big. The members have really transformed the club into what it is.”

She said she is happy with the direction the club is taking. Now, the club has a vice president of education, vice president of volunteerism and vice president of fundraising, which is exactly the vision the club’s founder had in mind. The club donates all of the money it raises, helps to educate the public about homeless animals and volunteers at local shelters. Rather than expecting dues, each member must give two hours of their time each semester, through any of the three pillars the club believes in.

The club has a fundraising opportunity coming up at Jeff’s Pizza. Next Friday, people can go to Jeff’s Pizza and mention they are there for Students Helping Rescue Animals. The proceeds from these sales will go to the club, which will be donated to shelters. The fundraiser will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The group also will be working on its education effort in the coming weeks. Events often include a table on campus and lectures, and on Nov. 14, Mindy Collison will be on campus to speak about puppy mills. Collison will present at 7:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union following the club’s meeting.

Students Helping Rescue Animals also does a lot during Veishea. It hosts fundraisers and adoption events to find people interested in adopting homeless animals. The group generally has dogs there as well to help spark interest.

Club meetings take place at 7 p.m. every other Monday. The meetings are open to everyone hoping to make a difference for homeless animals.

“It’s just so rewarding to know I’m actually making a difference,” Birkeland said of her time spent with the club.

Bender, who is interested in someday opening her own shelter, said she has had a great experience with the club and has learned an invaluable amount about homeless animals.

“I’ve probably gotten more out of SHRA than I have out of classes,” she said.

Bender pushes that the club has “something for everybody,” and each member may be as involved as they choose to be.