The eleventh annual spring canned food drive is now underway. The food drive, sponsored by the Art Club, will last the entirety of the month of April. The Art Club hosts the food drive which started 11 years ago, and is held every fall and spring semester.
“We were approached by a woman named Charlene Steed who worked at with an organization here in town called, ‘Tyler AIDS services.’ Her husband contracted and died from AIDS from a blood transfusion he had during surgery,” said Art Department Chair and faculty sponsor for the Art Club Derrick White.
Steed approached White before starting the food drive along with representatives from UT Tyler and Texas College. She made it a competition to see what school could raise the most canned food. TJC beat UT Tyler and Texas College by 1,500 cans. From that point on, Steed came directly to TJC and asked to do the canned food drive.
“In her honor, because over the years I have lost contact with her and assuming she passed on due to her being older in age, we have dedicated ourselves to do it every semester the past decade since,” said White.
The Art Club got involved with the canned food drive with past works of community service. White believes this is why Steed initially reached out to the Art Club. White also feels that this is not just an Art Club community service project, but it is an entire college project.
“Students who want to be involved can either drop it off directly to us and we’ll collect cans in the Jenkins Hall Art Department Lobby, they can bring it here or to me personally or to an Art Club member,” said White. “If they don’t want to do that they can take it to other departments or other buildings. Even the West Campus gets involved.”
Other departments that have been involved include departments from Pirtle and the Surgical Technology program as well as different honor societies. With increased student involvement over the years, the numbers of cans are expected to rise for this semester.
“Last semester’s food drive was one of the largest we have ever had. We usually average 2,000 food items that we donate to what is now called ‘East Texas Cares,’ it is still essentially an extension of that original ‘Tyler AIDS Services.’ They still have a food pantry, and still do a lot of community support,” said White. “Without this canned food drive that we host twice a year, I don’t know how they can offer aid. They have told us it is very vital.”
White sees this canned food drive as a learning experience for students. By being involved with community service now, later in life he believes students will be more likely to be involved and using this experience as a pay-it-forward kind of experience. One student who has been involved the past few years is Sophomore Art Major Jeri Hubbard.
“With this particular food drive, it’s really cool because it’s a food drive that really accumulates a lot of donations,” said Hubbard. “It’s amazing to see students and faculty and even the science department donate food. It’s good to see people at a junior college donating that much food.”
Volunteers are welcome to help distribute the canned food. For information about donations, distribution or the food drive, email Derrick White at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (903)-510-2233. Questions can also be asked in person at the Art Lobby in Jenkins Hall.