By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
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When the Tigers take on the Lions Friday they’ll also be taking on hunger in our community.
At the entrance gates to the football game will be students taking canned and other non-perishable food items to donate to the Food Pantry of Navarro County.
“Heath Autrey, the baseball coach, spurred it on,” said Susan Johnson, spokeswoman for the Corsicana Independent School District. “He just wants to make sure all our students are well-fed and taken care of. It was his idea to do something at a large public gathering.”
This is the first time the football game has been the site of a food drive, Johnson said.
“All our schools do food drives, especially around the holidays, but this was another way to help the food pantry as they’re coming into their big holiday season. We just appreciate the students’ enthusiasm for wanting to do this.”
The effort was born from an effort last year through Arms of Hope, a non-profit agency that provided food to hungry kids within the district, according to Coach Heath Autrey.
“We’d find needy kids in the district and we take food to their families,” he said. “We have a lot of kids who don’t have enough to eat over the weekend.
“This year, we joined up with our food pantry here in town,” Autrey continued. “Instead of us supplying all the food we wanted to work with our food pantry to help all the people, not just our students, but everyone in the community.”
The ultimate goal is to provide 200 bags of food to needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The community was just awesome last year, everybody really helped out,” he said.
In order to help stock the shelves in advance of the holidays, the students and coaches decided to ask people to bring food to the football game. The Food Pantry truck will be at the game Friday, and student athletes not playing Friday will collect the donations from each gate and load the truck.
“Our team will be there, and a couple of other teams are going to be helping us,” Autrey said. “Basically, just shaking hands and telling them ‘thank you,’ and organizing the food and getting it to the food pantry.”
For Sue Tyner, executive director of the Food Pantry, this is a great combination of helping the community and helping kids.
“There are a lot of kids in the schools that are kind of hurting,” she pointed out. “This summer, we had close to 3,500 people a month (coming to the food pantry) with all the closing down of those major employers. Last summer, it was about 2,500, and we thought that was really bad.
“We’ve seen such an increase in the need it’s hard to get enough stuff in here to keep them fed,” Tyner said. “We’re very grateful that they’re going to do this food drive.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com