HMHS football players volunteer at Food Bank of South Jersey
In light of the recent hazing incident in Sayreville and the legal troubles of the NFL, the Haddonfield Memorial High School football players came together to show the community the positive side of football and teamwork.
On their day off on Feb. 17, 11 members of the HMHS football team decided to give back. Joseph Ellis, a sophomore, helped to organize a group of football players to go to the Food Bank of South Jersey to volunteer.
“I’m really devoted to solving hunger in South Jersey. This past year, I have been trying to collect food in local places in Haddonfield to help resolve the issue. Also football has been getting negative publicity and I wanted to show the positive side of it, like coming together for a common goal. And I think that volunteering really shows this,” Ellis said.
The players went to the food bank, learning a bit about the organization before helping to bring in some items to the distribution center as well as sorting through crates upon crates of clementines that were donated to the center. Although they only worked for a few hours, the boys not only helped others, but helped their team unity.
“I’m only volunteering for a few hours, but countless people volunteer and it really adds up. It shows the bright sides and characteristics that we want to show in football, teamwork and unity. It’s for a good purpose,” Ellis said.
“I felt pretty good about volunteering. Helping out other people with my friends, it really is just enjoyable. I can see how a group of people can come together to help out, no matter how different they are. It was a good thing to do and you can grow together by helping other people. It was good to grow together, get know each other more and work with each other,” sophomore Steven Strobel said.
According to Ellis, the coaches at HMHS stress characteristics such as teamwork, unity, working together and leadership. It is not a one-person game; every person matters and it is important to work together toward a common goal. This is the same with the Food Bank of South Jersey.
“We can definitely take away some great values that the coaches stress already. Leadership, not being selfish, putting yourself out there, every single person matters. Like with the food bank, every one of us mattered. Each of us worked together and sorted lot of food to help the food bank out,” Ellis said.
The Food Bank of South Jersey, founded in 1985, is the largest food assistance provider in South Jersey. In four counties, the food bank served about 200,000 food insecure individuals last year. Volunteers are a huge part of the operation, since it is a non-profit and relies on the help of others.
Louis Martelli, manager of media relations at the Food Bank of South Jersey, said the operation and organization are always eye opening to young people. They walk into the center and hunger no longer is an abstract idea, but becomes real. They realize how it takes a lot of effort and working together to make a difference. The food bank really relies on volunteer assistance for help.
“We’re really fortunate as a team to help this food bank, and we hope to continue our service. We had a good time knowing that we helped people and bringing these values to the football team as well,” Ellis said.
“I hope that I can keep doing this and get some other people to help out. There are people out there being fed through the food bank, and that is how they survive, so I want to help out,” Strobel said.
Ellis said for those who wish to help, it is important to first raise awareness about hunger. When he first started volunteering and learning about hunger, he didn’t know that tens of thousands of people didn’t know where their next meal would be coming from. He was shocked and didn’t realize how lucky he was in his life. He also said coming together and volunteering was a great way to
“No matter how small your donation, your contribution is a help,” Ellis said.
For those who wish to wish to help the Food Bank of South Jersey try to end hunger, go to www.foodbanksj.org/Individuals.html. The site gives a list of ways individuals can help. To learn more about the Food Bank of South Jersey itself, go to www.foodbanksj.org.