With the arrival of fall weather and the holidays approaching, people begin to prepare for Thanksgiving festivities.
Southern Miss student-athletes prepare for the holiday season by hosting a canned food drive on the Hattiesburg campus in an attempt to make everyone’s Thanksgiving traditional and fulfilling.
The Southern Miss Student- Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is currently holding its annual “Let’s SAAC Hunger” food drive, which ends Nov. 22.
Conference USA member institutions participate in the initiative through conference-wide community outreach. SAAC and the Center for Community and Civic Engagement invites all student groups, faculty, staff, alumni and area residents to participate.
Danielle Block, vice president of SAAC, coordinates the majority of the organization’s outreach events and has set up collection dates as well as donation sites to promote the canned food drive to both students and Hattiesburg residents.
“I think it is very important to be part of something bigger than just your group of friends or your individual organization on campus,” Block said.
Block expressed the drive’s success in past years and hopes to continue its service for years to come.
“Community service events like the canned food drive are a great way to unite all students on campus with the purpose of making Hattiesburg a better place,” Block said.
In addition to networking with respective organizations on campus and in the community, C-USA also partners with YouGiveGoods, a for-profit company that facilitates online food drives. This partnership allows C-USA student-athletes to reach a much larger audience.
“As a student-athlete, it means a lot to me knowing I can give back to my community, a community that supports me and what I do so much,” said Shawn Brickley, a wide receiver for the Golden Eagles.
Brickley described his feeling of gratitude for the people of the community and encourages others to get more involved.
“A bunch of athletes hosting a food drive is a start, but we need more,” Brickley said. “We need everyone from every organization and every part of campus to unite and find more ways we can give back to our society.”
All canned goods donated at Southern Miss will directly benefit the local community. Christian Services, a member agency of the United Way of Southeast Mississippi, will distribute the canned goods immediately after weigh-ins take place. The goods will be provided to those in need throughout the Hattiesburg area.
“We hadn’t set a specific goal as to how many cans we wanted to collect, but we are trying to collect as many cans as possible by the end of the drive,” Block said.
Last year, C-USA collected more than 62,000 pounds of canned goods league- wide, equating to about 53,000 meals.
SAAC is accepting canned items from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 22 at the Duff Athletic Center. They also offer fans the opportunity to win free game vouchers at any particular home event if they are to bring five canned goods to upcoming sports events.
Fans can also donate canned items at the final Golden Eagle regular season home football game against Old Dominion, Nov. 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m or online through the YouGiveGoods page.
The “Let’s SAAC Hunger” food drive will end Sunday, Nov. 22.