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HNU Athletics helps those in need with Second Annual Turkey Drive

Holy Names University’s Athletics Department held their Second Annual Turkey Drive community service event on Wednesday, November 17. For the past month, HNU Athletics has collected funds and canned food donations for the Alameda County Food Bank. Thanks to an outpouring of generous community support, HNU Athletics raised over $1,000 and will be able to help many local families enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. 

HNU Athletics’ first Turkey Drive was held last November, when many families were struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though most athletic events were on hold due to the pandemic, Joseph Carroll, associate director of athletics, wanted to provide students an opportunity to get involved in the community. He got together with Drew Gwerder and Noel Rosales, graduate assistants for sports information, and came up with the Turkey Drive as a way to give back to those in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

“This year we have surpassed the funds raised last year to purchase frozen turkeys, plus we collected canned foods as well,” said Carroll. HNU Athletics students and staff travelled together to purchase the frozen turkeys at a local FoodMaxx and delivered them along with the donated canned food items to the Alameda County Food Bank on Wednesday, November 17.

Community service is embedded into the mission of HNU. “There are a lot of people out there struggling, and community service helps in leaving a lasting, positive impact on our local community,” explains HNU Athletics Director Phillip Billeci-Gard. “The coaches in the athletics department do a tremendous job instilling community service as an opportunity for our student-athletes,” stated Billeci-Gard. 

Billeci-Gard believes the holidays provide a moment to consider and be thankful for what we have, and also to help those in need. “From a student and staff’s perspective, [community service] puts a brighter light on just how fortunate we really are to be able to participate in collegiate athletics, to be a part of a campus community, and continue our education,” said Billeci-Gard. “I always tell people this: Hope goes a long way and hope is free—just a smile, a handshake, or wishing someone well, can really brighten someone’s day.” 

The Turkey Drive is a tradition that the HNU Athletics Department hopes to continue for years to come, and may expand to other food banks in the near future. “The initiative itself has a lot of room to grow,” said Carroll. “Next year we would love to get even more volunteers, collect more canned food items, and purchase more frozen turkeys to donate to the local food banks.”