STEUBENVILLE - There will be more than one winner from Friday night's game pitting Steubenville Big Red against the Massillon Tigers.
In this case, it will be needy area residents who will benefit from Thanksgiving food baskets made available through Urban Mission Ministries.
"Fill the Football Field" is a first-time initiative where the mission and Steubenville High School will partner to collect canned goods, nonperishable items and donations for the November holiday giveaway.
Janice R. Kiaski
GAME ON — Urban Mission Ministries and Steubenville High School are partnering in a first-time endeavor called “Fill the Football Field.” Mission staff and volunteers will be stationed at each gate at Harding Stadium on Friday from 5 p.m. until the start of the Big Red/Massillon football game at 7 p.m. to collect canned goods, nonperishable items and donations for the upcoming Thanksgiving giveaway. Game-goers also can have their photos taken with Thom Turkey, the mission’s mascot, for a $5 donation. Looking forward to the event are, from left, mission representatives Lisa Thomas; Cynthia Smith; Kate Snyder; the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission’s executive director; and Angie Brown.
"Urban Mission staff and volunteers will be stationed at each gate from 5 p.m. until the start of the game to collect canned goods and other nonperishable items as well as donations," said the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission's executive director.
In addition to the collection, Thom Turkey, the mission's turkey mascot, will be on hand for photos with Big Red fans for a $5 donation. "We will be able to provide the photos ASAP," Steele said.
The food collection idea took shape in recent months, according to Steele, after a conversation she had with Mike McVey, superintendent of Steubenville City Schools.
"I spoke with Mr. McVey about doing a 'fill the field' event over the summer, and he was really excited," Steele said. "He and the athletic director, Lynn Meyer, have been very accommodating and even had us attend the first two home football games to warm up the fans to the idea. Mr. McVey said the Massillon game would be a big one, and he thought it would be nice to have a presence then," she explained.
The collection will mark the kickoff of the mission's Thanksgiving food drive.
"Thom Turkey will be present so this will be a start to our Thanksgiving collection. We are expecting more than 1,200 families this year for Thanksgiving. We knew it was going to be a big year, as we have had many first-time visitors to the mission in the last few months," Steele said.
Beyond Friday's game, donations will gladly continue to be accepted, according to Steele.
"From now until the end of the year, we will be collecting canned goods and donations for our holiday programs. A Thanksgiving basket this year will be $35 dollars, two for $70. For every $1 we collect, we can purchase $4 worth of food through Mid Ohio Foodbank," she said.
The need continues to be great, she noted.
"Last year, one in six Ohioans and one in four children struggled with hunger," Steele said. "In the Harrison/Jefferson region, more than one in three residents live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (31,552 individuals), and one in five five children do not to eat enough food each day to live active healthy lives," she said.
Urban Mission distributes more than 1 million pounds of food each year to Ohio Valley residents.
For information, contact the mission by phone at (740) 282-8010 or at the mission's website at (740) 282-8010.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)