2018 Championship Boys Lead pack (photo by Marc Logan)
To All Our Friends and Colleagues in Coaching
First, thank you for your dedication to the athletic and personal development of your runners. We all know that your coaching job extends way beyond getting your kids to run fast. Most of the runners in your programs will never run a varsity race, and they get the same good coaching and character development that your fastest ones do.
Besides being a great race that Mill Creek hosts each year, the Coach Wood Invitational also offers your runners an opportunity to build their character and to benefit many folks in the surrounding community. Every year we sponsor the Hope and Hoppines Canned Food Drive, memorializing two young people near and dear to the XC community. I hope you've been planning ahead for it, but if not, there is plenty of time to get the message out to your runners and parents. As in previous years, our canned food donations go to the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op. And coaches, Fleet Feet will be giving a $100 gift card to the coach of the team which brings the most cans. We thought it was about time we showed you some appreciation for all the years you've supported this endeavor.
Let me tell you just a bit about the amazing program at the SE Gwinnett Co-op. Each month it serves about 500 to 550 families, distributing an average of 50,000 pounds of food! For families that utilize the food pantry, the Co-op can offer utility and prescription assistance as well, providing an average of $10,000 of financial support each month. Additionally, it operates a senior outreach program called Seasoned with Love, which delivers monthly groceries to 40 home-bound senior households. The Co-op utilizes the gifts of five part-time staff and depends on an army of volunteers to help the endeavor run efficiently and effectively. In 2018, 900 volunteers recorded over 23,000 hours at the Grayson facility.
Perhaps you can get your team captains involved or choose someone who also has strong feelings about this endeavor to lead the effort in collecting cans. I offer that this is a great opportunity for engendering leadership among your athletes. Also, please pass this note on to your parents and/or booster clubs, so that they might get involved in this canned food drive leading up to Thanksgiving.
In keeping with the good-natured, competitive spirit of the meet, we will be continuing our "cans for a can tradition." The team that brings the most canned goods to this year's meet will have their own can (port-o-john) designated for only their team and parents to use at next year's meet. Milton had enjoyed this honor four years in a row. However, last year Parkview finally "dethroned" them to win the chair of distinction (da-stink-tion - sorry, couldn't resist). I'd love to see a new team earn the "seat of honor" next year. The canned food drive tent will be set up where the teams enter the meet. We will be happy to receive your cans there and count them towards your team total.
Last year, because I was slow to get this reminder out to the coaches, the canned-food donations were way down. I'm trying to give you a month's notice this year, so you will have more time to promote this with your parents and runners. As always, we hope the impact of this meet to will reach far beyond the finish line of the races, to fill empty cupboards, ease hunger and offer hope. Thank you so much for partnering with us. We look forward to seeing you at the meet!
Coach Rick Wood and Pastor Katie Christie