By ANGIE CARNATHAN
The Mississippi State University M-Club is gearing up for its 12th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive and is asking Starkville residents to help out.
The student-athletes will deliver donation bags to people’s houses starting Wednesday. A list of needed food products will be attached to the bag. Student-athletes will come back for the filled bags on or about Thursday, Nov. 3.
Ray Berryhill, assistant athletic director for academics, said the drive will benefit multiple adopted families throughout Starkville and Oktibbeha County. He said he hopes the drive will provide each family with a very special Thanksgiving Day.
“We will get the names of anywhere from 12-18 families from the area that need a little extra help during the holidays,” Berryhill said. “We get local stores to donate the bags and we’ll staple a list of products needed with a pick-up date and a contact number for us to come back and get the bags.”
MSU student-athlete John Darden helped distribute and pick up bags last year. He said the response was overwhelming.
“Some people added several bags to the one that we left. Many people gave way more than we asked for,” Darden said. “It was really great to see how generous the people of Starkville everyone were.”
Darden said participants try to make it as convenient as possible for the people who donate.
“We bring the bags to them, and then they just let us know when they’re ready for us to pick them up again,” Darden said. “The only place they have to go is the grocery store; we’ll take care of the rest.”
Berryhill said volunteers don’t always have the manpower to cover every neighborhood in Starkville. He said residents interested in giving who do not receive a bag on their porch can call him at 662-325-2066 and leave their name and address so someone will come to their house.
“Even if they live 10 miles out of town, we will come to them and pick up whatever they’d like to give,” Berryhill said. “If they want to bring it to us, the can come by the Templeton Athletic Academic Center any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.”
M-Club President Kim Pettit has participated in the drive for the last few years and said the student-athletes make the event a priority, in spite of their busy schedules.
“We have athletes who juggle so many different things between their workouts, their classes, their homework, their games and their practices,” Pettit said, “but they still make time to give back to their community. It’s a really powerful thing to be a part of.”
Assistant Athletic Academics Counselor Jillian Jones has helped deliver food to families in need and said it’s easy to forget sometimes many people don’t have the everyday necessities that many take for granted.
“You don’t realize how good you have it until you see kids and families that are so grateful to just have food to put on the table for Thanksgiving,” Jones said. “It’s a very eye-opening and humbling experience. It’s a great opportunity for us as student-athletes to give support to a community that gives us so much support throughout the year.”
For more information, call Berryhill at 662-325-2066 or Pettit at 601-672-2614.