Brandon's Blog: Giving Thanks by Giving Back
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MGOBLUE

Nov. 25, 2013

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

What wins championships -- offense or defense? The question has been around the sport of football since the beginning of time.

Here at Michigan, players on both sides of the ball are talented and understand that to be successful on and off the field, they must work toward a goal greater than for one's self. Still, competition is the key, and if there is a chance to prove that one unit is better than the other then let's see who can win.

Just make sure it is a level playing field.

And that is what Team 134 has put in motion with the University of Michigan Football Food Drive as the defense battles the offense in a beneficial competition. With 500-plus people expected at the Wolverines player and staff family Thanksgiving dinner, the U-M football team in conjunction with Food Gatherers of Ann Arbor is using this opportunity to give back to the community by collecting food donations over the two weeks leading up to the competition's grand finale following Thursday's dinner.

Since the football team believes in competition and teamwork, it added an additional step, taking this worthwhile battle to all U-M varsity teams in a friendly contest to see which Wolverines team could donate the most food-drive items. Watch the video.

A 55-gallon drum was placed in the team locker rooms and meeting rooms. Of course, competitive rules were tricky, but SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) and the Office of Community Engagement helped put the rules in place:

  • Only non-perishable items will be weighed
     
  • Average weight per student-athlete will be the determining factor. For example: If a team gathers 20 lbs. of food and has 20 student-athletes on the team, average weight per student-athlete is 1 lb.
     
  • The team with the highest average weight per student-athlete wins

The competition between all the varsity sports started Monday, Nov. 11, and ended Friday, Nov. 22, but the battle between the offense and defense rages on until Thursday's team dinner.

Food drives are vital all year long, but Thanksgiving Day is one day each year when food and family take center stage.

Studies have shown that nearly 770,000 southeast Michigan residents, including one in four children, are faced with the uncertainty of where their next meal will come from.

Food Gatherers exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community by reducing food waste through the rescue and distribution of perishable and non-perishable food. They rescue food that would otherwise go to waste from local grocery stores and restaurants, and they partner with local gardeners and farmers, who donate fresh, healthy food that hungry neighbors need most.

Of monetary donations to Food Gatherers, $1 is equivalent to three meals served, and every one pound of food equals one meal. More than five million pounds of food each year is given to 150 non-profit partner agencies that include homeless shelters, emergency pantries, hot meal programs, and programs targeting low-income seniors and children.

We are proud that our Office of Community Engagement, SAAC, Team 134 and so many of our other student-athletes have become part of this Ann Arbor Food Gatherers team.

If you would like to be part of this important team, you may give directly to Food Gatherers at this address (1 Carrot Way, Ann Arbor, MI 48105) or give online by clicking here and adding GO BLUE BEAT HUNGER in the comment area of the form.

There is a football adage that states "Offense wins games, defense wins championships," but the real winners in this competition are the teams, staff, family and friends that have played a part in this effort to help Ann Arbor Food Gatherers.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Go Blue!

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