Williamsburg, Va. (Jan. 20, 2011) - The
William & Mary men's gymnastics team believes in lofty goals, no matter the
exercise. So when it came to year three of the team's after-Christmas food
collection for a Williamsburg food pantry known as "Fish," the team reached
higher than ever before.
In 2009, the team donated 1,500 pounds of non-perishable items. Last year, it
donated 2,000 pounds. Earlier this week, led by sophomore chairman Matt Burns, the squad supplied Fish with
3,000 pounds of food.
When asked if 3,000 pounds is among the largest one-time donations her
organization receives, Fish Board of Directors member Billie Johnston
exclaimed, "Heavens, yes! We are so grateful to those students for getting
involved with us."
On Jan. 9, members of the team distributed 2,000 flyers to seven
Williamsburg-area neighborhoods, informing residents that they would be
returning in a week to gather food and other contributions left outside. On the
afternoon of the 16th, they returned to their assigned neighborhoods, then
rendezvoused at William
& Mary Hall to take stock of what they had.
In addition to the food, there were numerous blankets, jackets, even television
sets. All of it was bagged and carted to Fish on Jan. 18.
"We feel it's important to be able to give back to this community," Burns said.
"We're here for a big four years of our lives, and we're blessed enough to come
here with no worries about where to get food or where to stay warm. We think
it's good to do this in a place where we're spending four important years of
Johnston said that statistics for 2009 showed that the organization received
3,751 "requests" for food. A request can represent one person or an entire
family. Fulfilling those requests with five-day packages containing three meals
per person per day, Fish figured it served 119,175 meals in 2009.
"I would say that, depending on the volume of requests we get, this donation
would last about one month, maybe six weeks," Johnston said. "The need has
grown steadily over the last couple of years. People really depend on us to
Burns said the annual project takes about one month to plan. Because of
preseason training, the team returns to campus from holiday break a couple of
weeks earlier than the rest of the student body. The food drive is a highly
satisfying way to spend some of the time not consumed by daily practice
"I think we were really surprised last year; we didn't expect people (in the
community) to be particularly generous," Burns said. "But they were so excited
to help. Considering the world today, it was very nice to see that there are
still so many people that care about others and are so generous."