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Release date: November 29

Student athletes donate food for local families

Student athletes from Wayland Baptist University donated and delivered Thanksgiving food boxes to eight Plainview families Sunday as part of a new character-building program initiated by the university.

According to Wayland Athletic Director Greg Feris, the students contacted the local Salvation Army to identify eight families to whom students could minister by assembling food boxes for the holidays. More than 100 of the nearly 170 student athletes gathered Sunday, Nov. 18 to bring their food donations for the "Champions Lending a Hand Food Drive" and to make deliveries in smaller groups representing athletic teams. The food donations, Feris said, totaled close to 400 pounds of food, almost twice what was needed for the eight families.

The food drive was the first of service projects to be coordinated by the newly formed Champions of Character Advocacy Council, which includes student representatives from each of the athletic teams on campus. Feris said the program stems from the university's athletic association, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which instituted the Champions of Character program this year.

"There are two primary goals of the council. One is conciousness-raising about the five core values of character, which are respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship," Feris said. "The other goal is to identify various activities that can bring the student athletes together periodically for the benefit of those core values. Out of the council's discussion of how they can reflect those values, they thought about trying to do something for Thanksgiving for those in the community."

During their Sunday meeting, council members and men's basketball head coach Todd Thurman spoke about some of the values. Feris said the group's response to the call for food donations is a good sign they're reflecting those values already.

"While it's neat to see the food come in and be distributed, what I hope the students can gain from something like this is the opportunity to serve others that they'll be able to relate somewhere down the line," he said.