FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fayetteville Tech baseball player Antonio Martinez understands that when the local community has a need, student-athletes step up.
“It’s important for us as student-athletes to help out the local community,” the sophomore said. “Without them, most of what we’re able to do wouldn’t be possible.”
Members of Fayetteville Tech’s baseball team answered the call this week by volunteering at United Way of Cumberland County’s 2021 Annual Campaign Kickoff.
During the event, which was held at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church on Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers from dozens of local organizations and businesses helped assemble and package 25,000 meals for donation to local food pantries through Fayetteville Urban Ministry.
Amy Navejas, executive director and CEO of United Way of Cumberland County’s executive director and CEO, said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic prompted the organization to use its annual kickoff event to focus on basic needs.
“With so many people in a difficult place because of Covid-19, we wanted to bring it back to our mission and use this time together hands-on to make an impact,” Navejas said. “We know where our next meal is coming from, but not everyone is as fortunate as we are, so we want to make sure we make an impact where we can.”
About a dozen Trojan baseball players were among the volunteers, divvying up wholesale containers of food before reassembling and packaging the items into individual meals.
“Yesterday, we were scooping peas and corn into boxes and setting up to get ready for today,” sophomore Cole Pletcher said. “Now we’re mixing them all together, and these food packages can last up to two years.”
Navejas said volunteers are critical to the United Way’s mission.
“The reality is that nonprofits can’t operate without volunteers,” she said. ““The guys from FTCC have been amazing. They were here for hours yesterday. We didn’t have air conditioning, and it was the heat of the day, but they were working away. Twenty-five thousand meals is a large volume, and we can’t do that without the support of the community. They really made it happen.”