As a way of saying thank you to Georgia Southern University and the citizens of Statesboro for their hospitality at the Nov. 20 football game, supporters of Brigham Young University hosted a tailgate party on the Georgia Southern campus before the game at Paulson Stadium.
More than 2,500 fans showed up for not only the tailgate party, but a charity drive, as well. All attendees were asked to bring donations to benefit Fostering Bulloch, Statesboro First United Methodist Soup Kitchen and the Statesboro Food Bank.
"We knew we would be bringing thousands of BYU fans to Georgia Southern for the football game and our tailgate," said Tiffany Bird, BYU Alumni Georgia Chapter Chair, and one of the organizers of the BYU tailgate. "We wanted to show Statesboro and Georgia Southern how much we appreciate them for hosting and welcoming all of our fans for the weekend. It’s the least we could do after the generosity that Georgia Southern has shown us in helping us with our tailgate and selling us a ton of football tickets."
The tailgate attendees brought children diapers, children’s winter clothing and coats, and nonperishable and canned foods for the charity drive, while others donated cash. From the event, the three nonprofits collected more than 200 coats, 300 boxes of diapers and several large bags of children’s winter wear.
“It was absolutely phenomenal to see all the food come at just the right time during this holiday season when we serve hundreds of families,” said Jodi Brannon from the Statesboro Food Bank.
The tailgate also collected about 900 pounds of canned goods and a humanitarian donation of 20,000 pounds of food commodities delivered a few days prior to the game from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church founded Brigham Young University.
“It was amazing to see the number of generous donations,” said Debbie Walker from the Statesboro First United Methodist Church Soup Kitchen. “And to top it off, they gave us all the extra pulled pork, bread, and chips left over to provide the next Saturday’s meal.”
The local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also put out collection boxes in their buildings for the charity drive. On game day, they brought truckloads of donations to the tailgate.
"BYU fans are very charitable and Christ-like people,” Bird said. “Our fans traveled from all over the U.S., but mainly Georgia and the Southeast to attend this football game in Statesboro. We knew if we asked for donations, they would show up with it, and they did."
Cheryl Ruggles is the communications coordinator for the Eastern Georgia and South Carolina District for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.