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Livingstone student-athletes provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

For the third consecutive year, Several Salisbury-area families will enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal next week thanks to Livingstone College student-athletes and coaches.

The holiday benevolence is just one small way in which Livingstone athletes and coaches give back to the community.

This is our third annual Thanksgiving Food Drive,” said Jaime Kent, head athletic trainer at Livingstone. “We work with the Rowan County Department of Social Services and adopt families to support during the Thanksgiving season. We told them we could support five families this year, but it looks like we’ll be able to provide enough food for eight families.”

The food drive is being organized by members of the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC. Kent, the senior female administrator in the athletic department, is the SAAC advisor. Livingstone junior Juan Mortimer, a computer information systems major from The Bahamas, is the organization’s president.

Mortimer isn’t traveling home to The Bahamas for the holiday but will be in Raleigh with his girlfriend’s family. He said he can’t imagine not being able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

I just want to ensure other people get the same kind of opportunity I’m getting,” he said. “I feel that sometimes people get too caught up in the Thanksgiving festivities and lose appreciation for the small things in life. Everybody can’t afford to purchase a turkey and all of the trimmings needed for a full Thanksgiving meal.”

Mortimer plans to help deliver the food on Monday, just as he did a year ago. The student-athletes really enjoy the annual food drive, Kent said.

The students really like doing this because they feel like they’re giving back to the community,” she said. “I think a big reason they enjoy it is they appreciate the way people from the community come out to support them at their athletic events. Also, they know food is something that, unfortunately, some people have to worry about this time of the year, and they want every family to have a Thanksgiving Dinner.”

While all of the coaches participate, Kent said Justin Davis always goes the extra mile.

Every year Justin Davis does a great job getting the kids to participate,” Kent said. “He always takes two families, even though he’s the only coach for track and field and cross country. He does a great job corralling his kids, and they always donate extra food.”

Davis, a Salisbury native, said providing Thanksgiving food for families in need is simply the right thing to do.

I think it’s great to be able to give back to the community and give someone who might not normally have a Thanksgiving meal the opportunity to enjoy one,” Davis said. “According to the U.S. Census, 18.5 percent of Rowan County residents live below the poverty level. My family has always been fortunate to have a great meal for Thanksgiving, so I know how it feels to get that, but some people don’t.

Although we’re providing meals for only eight or so families, and for just one day, our hope is those families will realize there are people out there who want to help,” Davis continued. “Likewise, we at Livingstone hope our efforts will be duplicated by other businesses and organizations because it’s not how much you give but rather that you give.”

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