Giving Back: Carson-Newman players help Food on Foot
Carson-Newman football players spent time with the kids at Food on Foot signing autographs and playing games during the backpack registration.
For the more than 360 children waiting in line to sign-up for the annual Tennessee Food on Foot backpack giveaway, their patience was rewarded with an extra treat as the Carson-Newman University football team took over the non-profit.
Almost 20 players from the team volunteered their time on Wednesday to help register the kids, pass out food bags, sign autographs and play with the kids.
This year made for the second time the team has volunteered at Food on Foot after one of the parents of a team member first learned of the non-profit and did some construction work on the facility.
Evan Brown, a junior defensive end from Maryville said after he and his father, Walt, learned more about the program, he told his coach and asked the team to help.
“I think (Food on Foot) is incredible. If we had more people doing what they are, the world and our communities would be better off,” Brown said.
One of the senior leaders on the team, running back Andy Hibbett said Coach Ken Sparks is always speaking of community service and when the opportunity presented itself each player volunteered their time to participate.
Redshirt junior running back Randall Freeman said Sparks tells them a big part of growing is to give of yourself.
“As a team we want to instill that in all of our players so I think it’s important to come out and support the community and give back,” Freeman said.
“Watching the people come in, it strikes something in you. You don’t realize how fortunate you are until you’re on the giving end instead of the receiving end. That’s an important reminder to ground yourself and humble yourself as an individual and all of us as a team,” Freeman said.
While at the non-profit’s warehouse, some of the team took time to play outside with the kids tossing footballs and playing “whacky Olympic games” with them.
“Anytime you get a chance to work with kids it’s great. I want them to remember what we did today so they can grow up and pass it on,’’ Freeman said.
Also in the mix at sign-ups was former NFL player with the New York Jets John Merrill.
Merrill said he was happy to come out and help when he heard about the non-profit through Walt Brown who was doing work on his house.
He said participating in the day allowed him the chance to encourage young men and women and show God’s love through him.
“God calls us all for greatness, so what I tell young people is that in whatever you do, be the very best you can be because that’s what God called you to do,” Merrill said.
In total Foot on Foot plans to give out more than 1,000 backpacks for students of all grade levels.
Founder Carolyn Jarnagin said the organization has been blessed with donations and support from the community to pull off the large feet, but work is still needed.
She said she still is in need of supplies for the often forgotten high school age-group. The organization needs backpacks, college ruled paper, composition books, red, black and blue pens and protractors.
The backpack giveaway is Saturday, Aug. 2 beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Food on Foot warehouse, 1 Berkline Drive in Morristown.
Children must be present during the distribution to receive a backpack.
-By Chris Phipps, Tribune Staff Writer