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Cadets donate more than 9,000 pounds of food for local charity

Members of the Corps of Cadets' Alpha Company, led by Cadet Capt. Blake Cox, pose with some of the more than 3,000 cans of food they collected during a recent food drive. Alpha Company collected more cans than any other company.

The University of North Georgia's Corps of Cadets delivered more than 11,000 cans of food to the Community Helping Place (CHP) in October, exceeding the challenge to raise 10,000 cans in only a few weeks.

Brenda Cook, CHP's executive director, said the amount of food donated by the cadets will feed more than 160 families.

"I can't begin to express our heartfelt gratitude to the UNG Corps of Cadets for collecting more than 9,000 pounds of food for the Community Helping Place food pantry. Because of their hard work and generosity, approximately 164 families will have food this month," Cook said. "We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful group of young men and women willing to help meet the need of people in our community."

Lauren Russell, a staff member in the commandant's office, proposed the drive, and cadets exceeded all expectations.

"What the Corps of Cadets did for the Community Helping Place this month is outstanding! Our cadets are extremely generous, and when they donated more than 11,000 cans of food totaling almost 10,000 pounds, it brought a tear to my eye," said Maj. Richard Neikirk, assistant commandant of cadets. "I want to thank Mrs. Lauren Russell for organizing this event for the corps.  A very special thank you goes out to every cadet who dug deep into his or her pocket to purchase food for the local community. We have the best cadets in the nation, and they are always willing to serve others."

Cadet food drive
Cadet Jacob Pahlas of Golf Company helps unload the food collected for the
Community Helping Place during the recent Corps of Cadets food drive.

The drive also built a healthy sense of competition between companies. Alpha Company led the way, donating more than 3,000 cans. Bravo Company was a close second, also donating more than 3,000 cans. Cadet Col. Blake Schaper, commander of the Corps of Cadets, is proud of all the cadets who took part in the food drive.

"The Corps of Cadets takes a great pride in selfless service. This year's canned food drive was just another way in which the cadets put the interests of others before their own," Schaper said. "I congratulate all of the cadets on a job well done – they are all loyal and dedicated to a great cause."

CHP, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting those in need in Lumpkin County, began in 2001. Last year, the CHP food pantry served an average of 268 families per month and distributed 156,198 pounds of food. CHP also provides other resources such as a free clinic, emergency financial assistance for rent or utilities, and counseling.

Each year, CHP's White Christmas outreach program provides food, toys and thrift store vouchers for clothing for families; last year's White Christmas outreach served 262 families, including 499 children, and distributed 7,491 pounds of food. Several UNG groups typically hold food drives in November and December to donate during the White Christmas outreach.

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