Story by Bella Wexler – Photos Courtesy of Cody’s Friends
Young Cody Allen was once tasked with writing a school report about his personal hero. Inspired by the famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, Cody elected to write about former President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s words inspired Cody to discover how he could help his country, too. For him, this meant helping both people and pets in need. So, being the remarkably driven child he was, he founded Cody’s Friends: a charitable organization dedicated to collecting and distributing donations of pet care materials to those in need. Ten years later, Cody is now a full-time student at the University of Arizona while continuing to dedicate himself to the ever-growing Cody’s Friends mission. This holiday season, Cody’s Friends invites the entire Tucson community to contribute to bettering the lives of pets and their people in our city.
The impact of Cody’s ambition and passion for animal welfare is already evident, yet he aims higher every year. “Initially, my mom and I picked up donations on front porches for several years,’’ Cody says. Since then, Cody’s Friends has expanded significantly with the support of many volunteers. In 2018, a total of over 40 human service agencies and 75 animal rescue groups relied on pet food and supply donations distributed by Cody’s Friends. That year, over 1 million pounds of pet food were delivered to these resource centers in need. Cody is confident that by the end of this year, “we are going to break that record”. Even as they continue to grow, the need for pet supplies in Tucson can seem insurmountable. Made up entirely by unpaid volunteers, Cody’s Friends requires all the help they can get to tackle this need and, no matter what, their commitment to bettering the lives of people and animals is unfaltering.
Cody is particularly moved by the devoted relationship between owners and their pets. “People will go hungry before they let their pet suffer,” he says. As a result, delivering food for animals enables Cody’s Friends to help those pets’ people, too. In order to meet the high demand for pet supplies, Cody’s Friends relies on local businesses displaying donation boxes to customers, pet food donated from stores, as well as monetary donations which they use to purchase more pet food.
The holiday pet food drive offers a perfect opportunity every year to contribute to the Cody’s Friends mission. From October 1st through December 31st, donations of pet food and supplies are delivered at special holiday events such as the Armory Park and Salvation Army Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. All of this is done in addition to the organization’s regular deliveries. In 2019, Cody’s Friends is aiming to stock 21,000 pounds of pet food above what is typically needed over the course of the holiday drive. Community members like you can help in a variety of ways including volunteering to bag food or help organize/attend special events, dropping off donations- open food bags are acceptable- at one of forty Cody’s Friends Donation Stations across Tucson (listed at https://codysfriends.org/wheretodonate/) or at their main service location (4702 N Flowing Wells), and making a monetary donation online at https://codysfriends.org/donate/. All help is greatly appreciated and makes a major difference in the lives of pets and owners in need.
Throughout his years of working with Cody’s Friends, Cody’s devotion to animal wellbeing has only grown. While in high school, he worked at a local veterinary clinic. Now, in his freshman year of college at the University of Arizona, he continues to propel Cody’s Friends forward while majoring in veterinary science. He certainly has lived up to his grade school hero, President John F. Kennedy’s words and is constantly striving to do more. Discovering what we can do for our country begins with discovering how to give back to our community. This holiday season, thanks to Cody’s Friends, we all have an answer to that question. To learn more, please visit https://codysfriends.org or the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CodysFriendsCharity/.