SU Basketball Fans encouraged to help combat hunger during Saturday's game against Georgetown

A drive to collect canned food will be held during the SU Men's Basketball game against Georgetown Saturday in order to help combat hunger in the local community.

In addition to bringing orange face paint, orange T-shirts and every ounce of school spirit possible to Saturday's Syracuse-Georgetown basketball game, fans are also encouraged to bring a canned food donation for the Can It! food drive.

Can It! is a university-wide interfaith initiative hosted by SU's Better Together Interfaith Alliance. Better Together volunteers will be collecting canned foods and monetary donations at the gates of the dome before the 4 p.m. game, and in the backcourt during and after the game, according to a Feb. 7 Food Bank of Central New York press release. According to the release, all donations will be given to the Food Bank of Central New York.

Better Together volunteers began collecting donations for the drive on Tuesday in Schine Student Center. Students were encouraged to bring at least three cans of food to the Can It! table in exchange for a free T-shirt.

Leah Nussbaum, a junior and co-president of the Better Together Interfaith Alliance said Wednesday that the drive had collected about as many donations as it had by that time last year. She said tabling in Schine is effective because students can go straight to the bookstore and back to the table. “Also, I think students just really like free T-shirts,” she said laughing.

Nussbaum said the goal for this year's drive is to beat last year's donation record. According to the press release, that would be $2,560 and 1,370 pounds of food. The release also states that this food was distributed to 268 emergency food programs in the Food Bank of Central New York's 11-county service area.

Al Forbes, a graduate assistant in the Office of Engagement Programs, said that in order to achieve this goal, the Better Together team has been working to get maximum publicity for the event. “The organizers have done a lot of work in the city of Syracuse, like getting news stations and radio stations to help get the word out,” she said.

Now that the team has finished preparing for the event, Forbes said her main responsibility for Saturday is signing in each of the 45 volunteers and making sure they are at the right gates. She said there will be three volunteers at each gate and several others collecting donations behind the court. “I'm told it's going to be packed,” she said. “So hopefully a lot of cans, a lot of donations and a lot of excitement.”

Nussbaum said that although the results of each of the Interfaith Alliance's initiatives are important, the initial step in organizing an initiative of Can It!'s magnitude is choosing a cause that people of different cultures and backgrounds can relate to. “People have different beliefs and values that motivate them to do the same kind of work,” she said. “I think they really need to find what they have in common and work toward the common good. Hunger is something that brings a lot of people together.”

For fans who wish to contribute to the drive, items in need include canned fruits, vegetables, tuna, beans, legumes and soup, as well as non-canned foods like peanut butter, pasta, rice, cereals and oatmeal. 

Image courtesy of Better Together Syracuse/Facebook

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