Griffith, Little Caesars raise $1,572 for APSO

Standing from left to right: Kim Copas, Autism Project of Southern Ohio Vice President, Mike Bell, Autism Project of Southern Ohio President, Little Caesars Portsmouth Store Co-Manager Josh Griffith, and Little Caesars Store Co-Manager Jennifer Zirkles with the championship trophy in the Third Annual Autism Awareness Puzzle Piece Promotion Challenge.

Standing from left to right: Lori Hutchinson, Josh Griffith, Aries Garcia, and Samantha Craft stand before the trademark puzzle pieces that represent autism awareness.

It’s always a great boost when programs that stand for the right things get an extra boost via outside help.

On Friday, the Autism Project of Southern Ohio officially received that help when nine Little Caesars locations across the Southern Ohio area raised $3,400 for the APSO.

And to add more icing on top of the scrumptious cake, the Portsmouth Little Caesars franchise was the one who provided the vast majority of the funds that were donated to the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, as store manager Josh Griffith, co-manager Jennifer Zirkles, and staff raised an astounding $1,572 to go towards bettering the lives of the youth who are involved in the project through the Third Annual Autism Awareness Puzzle Piece Promotion Challenge that all nine Little Caesars stores in the Southern Ohio region participate in every year.

For Griffith, the ability of his staff at Portsmouth to raise as much money as they did for such a wonderful cause, along with the generous people who came in and donated their time and effort to help make their goals a reality, was simply overwhelming.

“It is for a worthy cause,” Griffith said. “We put our heart and soul into it. I didn’t really know that we had really done that much until the end. It’s wonderful.”

Putting together any kind of donations for such a worthy cause is outstanding. However, the Griffith-managed pizza franchise did more than just donate. That was proven with their total mark, which exceeded 46 percent of the total funds raised for APSO.

The motivation for doing so, however, is easy to understand. Griffith has a four-year old nephew who “doesn’t talk,” according to the 26-year old. Autism Speaks, a company that was founded in February 2005, states that one of the eight possible signs of autism at any age is an individual who “remains nonverbal or has delayed language development,” according to the website.

“He hasn’t even spoken a word,” Griffith said. “For him to talk one day, and to have a conversation with him, will be awesome. That motivated me to do more and to help him out in some way.”

So Griffith — who, along with his fellow coworkers, were disappointed with what they raised in 2016 — decided to go all-in in the promotion once the Portsmouth High School graduate took over the reigns as store manager. In fact, employees, including Griffith himself, donated much of their tip money to the cause.

“In the previous two years, we didn’t do so good,” Griffith said. “Once I became the store manager, I told Jennifer about it, and we motivated our employees to push (the promotion). Everybody was donating. For a while there, I had almost every car coming in and donating money, and that, really, is about how you present it. You don’t just ask them. You tell them that it’s for a good cause. Everybody did it.”

It was APSO, however, who provided a platform for Griffith and his coworkers to come together for a greater good — an experience that Griffith says he is blessed to have gone through.

“It’s great for the kids,” Griffith said. “It’s been a wonderful promotion to take part in, and we’re looking forward to participating in it again for years to come.”

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7