Kiera Savage

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — As the holiday season has arrived, Winthrop University partnered with HOPE of Rock Hill to collect food prior to the men’s basketball game against Pfeiffer University Nov. 25.

Fans who donated a non-perishable food item, by placing it in the large yellow crates that lined the walls of the Winthrop Coliseum, were able to buy a ticket to the game for just $2.

HOPE, which is also known as Project HOPE, is a non-profit crisis assistance center that has provided food and financial assistance to those in need in Rock Hill and York County since 1975.

“Winthrop is a huge part of Project HOPE. We partner with sororities, fraternities, the first-year experience groups for freshmen on campus. Miranda (Knight) and the dean of student’s office are huge supporters of the organization,” said Gordon Bell, director of HOPE and a 1984 Winthrop graduate.

Bell said HOPE also offers support for Winthrop students who are experiencing food insecurity.

“We can provide them with a week’s worth of food,” he said. “We come in and let those students, after hours so no one will know, hand pick the foods they want out of our pantry.”

HOPE partners with Winthrop several times throughout the school year, which Bell said is a great benefit to the community.

“It helps us especially at Thanksgiving, because we’re picking up extra food that we have not counted on or needed. Winthrop does more than just this food drive; the first-year experience students have given us well over a ton of food this last month,” said Bell.

Vanesha Paul, a junior psychology major and avid Winthrop basketball fan, said she was happy to participate in the canned food drive, even though she is able to attend the games for free as a student.

“I’m really thankful that Winthrop gave me the opportunity to give back to my community and I will definitely participate in it next year as well,” said Paul.

This was the second year the men’s basketball team partnered with Project HOPE for a canned food drive.

According to HOPE, the group distributes over five plus tons of food weekly and with every dollar an individual donates, Project HOPE can purchase 5.5 pounds of food as a member of the Second Harvest Food Bank.

“With Thanksgiving coming up a lot of families don’t have the ability to get food for their families,” said Luke Denton, a Rock Hill police office who attended the game. “So I wanted to give a little bit for them so they could have a little more of a Thanksgiving.”

Denton said he also enjoyed the perks of getting into the game for just a few dollars.

“Yeah, it’s great, there is a good benefit (for me) too. I’m just ready to see Winthrop win,” he said.

Just as Denton predicted, Winthrop defeated Pfeiffer by a score of 127-83, making it a successful night for both the basketball team and Project HOPE.