The University of Virginia dominated the food drive portion of the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic, raising about 70 percent of the 216,000 pounds of food collected by the four Virginia universities participating on the Dec. 22 men’s basketball doubleheader.
The month-long food drive, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, culminated with the games at the Richmond Coliseum, with a portion of the ticket sales being donated to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. The food drive pitted the supporters of U.Va., Old Dominion University, the University of Richmond and George Mason University against each other in an effort to relieve hunger.
And while U.Va. raised 152,893 pounds of food to Old Dominion’s 59,168 pounds, the Monarchs squeezed out a 63-61 victory on the court.
In the George Mason versus the University of Richmond contest, the Spiders raised more food, 2,439 pounds to 2,352 pounds, but the Patriots prevailed in the game, 67-64.
The goal for the drive was 100,000 pounds of food, which the University of Virginia achieved on its own – and then raised half again as much.
“University of Virginia employees are known for being generous,” said Jim Fitzgerald, the associate director of the University’s Community Relations Office and chairman of U,Va.’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. “That generosity was certainly on display this holiday season as employees across Grounds rallied to support the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank through the Holiday Hoops Classic Food Drive.”
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell praised the universities for their generosity.
“This was an incredible outpouring of generosity from the students, fans, alumni, administrators, faculty and surrounding communities of these four universities,” McDonnell said. “During the holiday season, so many Virginians need the helping hand of our wonderful food banks. Thanks to Patriots, Spiders, Wahoos and Monarchs around the commonwealth, that helping hand will be there. I can’t thank all those who participated enough.
“The Virginia Way means helping one another and giving back. This food drive demonstrated, yet again, the goodness and generosity that has always defined the people of Virginia.”
Food banks around the state are dealing with increased demand and these donations will ease that stress some.
“When we partnered with the governor and the participating schools for this first-ever food drive, we set a goal of raising 100,000 pounds,” said Leslie Van Horn, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “That goal was doubled. Now, food banks in every region of the state will be receiving much-needed contributions at a very busy time of the year.”