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Giving Thanks: Jacks take time out to fight hunger

November 22, 2011

By Lyxan Toledanes, Odessa American

In a holiday centered largely around feasts of golden brown turkeys, hearty stuffing and pumpkin pies, going without a traditional Thanksgiving meal would damper the holiday spirit for anyone.

But players of the Odessa Jackalopes hockey team are hoping to help some families in need with their Thanksgiving meals on Thursday. On Monday, the Jackalopes donated about 300 pounds of food to the West Texas Food Bank.

“There is always a need for donations. This is just another opportunity to make another contribution,” Jackalopes General Manager Joe Clark said. “These young men have already been out in the community quite a bit, but it’s a chance for them to get out and help. I think they cherish the opportunities.”  Indeed, Clark said that after he posted a sign-up sheet for food bank donations in the team’s locker room, the sheet filled up with volunteers in two minutes.

Team Captain Willie Faust said he wanted to give back to people who haven’t had the same opportunities he has.  “Growing up with a family that’s been able to provide for me, it’s always nice to give to those less fortunate,” Faust said. “We’re making a big difference in someone’s life and providing something for them that, otherwise, they wouldn’t have.”

Faust’s teammate, Sheldon Taylor, said it gives the players an opportunity to give back to a community that’s treated them so well.  “We’re just so fortunate to play down here. When you have an opportunity to give back, it feels good to do that,” Taylor said.

The players will also be helping four specially chosen families and will be giving those families a full Thanksgiving meal.  Some meals will be distributed in the families’ homes, while some families will be taken to a local restaurant if they don’t have the available space for cooking a meal in their homes.

Clark said the families were chosen by Jackalopes staff and are a mix of “people just down on their luck right now.”  “It’s a learning tool for our players as well,” Clark said about the volunteering opportunities. “Our players get to see life isn’t perfect all the time and appreciate what they have.”

A dozen Jackalopes players were on hand at the West Texas Food Bank to offload items and pose for pictures with West Texas Food Bank Executive Director Augie Fernandes.  In addition to their Monday donation to the Food Bank, the Jackalopes will also provide four area families in need with a full Thanksgiving feast. The Jacks will be distributing those meals on Monday and Tuesday evening.

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