MISSOULA - We’ve been talking about The Brawl of the Wild this week and coverage leading up to the game won’t stop until the big day.
But it wouldn’t be a Cat-Griz match-up without Can the Cats and the Cat-Griz Blood Drive, which are two very important community events.
It’s a match-up that has all eyes on Montana — especially this year with ESPN College GameDay coming to Bozeman.
But it’s bigger than football and bigger than a rivalry game.
“You know those donations coming in really allow us to serve our community,” said Missoula Food Bank executive director Amy Allison Thompson.
It’s about showing the true spirit of Montanans.
“The goal is to just collect as many units of blood as possible to help our community,” said Red Cross Missoula Mobile Collections Center supervisor Fred Hall.
The benefit these two entities receive from the community helps in drastic ways as the holidays approach.
“We're at a time in our community where we are seeing record numbers of folks coming into our doors,” Allison Thompson told MTN News.
The Missoula Food Bank reports 1-in-4 people in our community access emergency food services, the highest it has ever been.
The Can the Cats competition helps 2,500 families.
The food bank wants to raise 500,000 pounds of food this year after last year's competition brought in 583,000 pounds of food.
As for the Cat Griz Blood Drive, last year the Griz came out on top donating 157 units of blood.
It’s important because the Red Cross collects more than 40,000 units of blood each year and supplies more than 30 Montana hospitals and medical centers.
Last year's Cat-Griz Battle brought in 310 units of lifesaving blood.
The competition promotes first-time donors, and first-time donors typically come back to donate.
And a game like this — which stretches across the state — helps bring awareness to both causes.
“It really helps to get that awareness out that how important is that we have the units of blood," said Hall. "So when people are sick or injured or whatever the cause may be, that we have that when they need it.”
People can donate blood or food until Friday in order for it to be counted in the competition.