Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 | 1:20 a.m.
The UNLV athletics department will be a player in helping Three Square Food Bank fill its cupboards on Saturday, as the two organizations are joining together in a food drive before Saturday’s basketball game against Wyoming.
From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., residents who drop off canned goods at the Thomas & Mack Center parking lot can win free tickets to the game from ESPN Radio 1100. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
"Three Square is an outstanding organization that we have worked with before," UNLV men's basketball head coach Lon Kruger said in a statement. "They provide a much-needed service in our community by helping to get food to those who are hungry and we are happy to help in any way we can. We hope our fans will participate in this worthy cause on their way to our game Saturday night against Wyoming."
When the athletics program can work with organizations that help the community, it’s a win-win situation, said Brian Sternberg, director of marketing and advertising for UNLV athletics.
“Three Square approached us and asked us if we were interested in being involved. Anything we can do with the community that helps out is a bonus for us and the community,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the university’s athletics department and the charity have teamed up. A food drive in November that asked fans to bring two canned food items to the Nov. 13 football game, Nov. 14 women’s basketball game and Nov. 15 men’s basketball game added thousands of pounds of nonperishable food items to the nonprofit’s cupboards.
According to Three Square’s calculations, the football game brought in more than 4,000 pounds of nonperishable food items; the women’s hoops game drew 138 pounds; and the men’s basketball game yielded 224 pounds of food.
“We need to do a community-wide food drive to get the most non-perishable items we can at a time when the community is suffering so greatly,” Three Square chief executive officer Julie Murray said. “There are so many middle-income families being laid off that never had to get help before, and they need food now.”
Murray said children are the ones who suffer the most when family members lose their jobs. Currently, 121 schools are participating in the nonprofit’s backpack program, which gives backpacks full of food to children in need to give them a meal when they cannot rely on free and reduced-price lunches during the school week.
“Last year, about 132,000 Clark County students were on the free and reduced lunches program and now we think it’s about 150,000 students,” she said.
The food drive is running in conjunction with President-elect Barack Obama’s call to make a difference in local communities, which inspired Feeding America, a food bank network that Three Square is a part of, to participate in the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s “Renewing America Together.” The program is a national weekend of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.