Kaitlynne Benjamin, STU Tommies Athlete for the Women's Soccer Team, and participant for the 2022 Athletes food drive. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

At night, sparkling lights fill the void of the dark Fredericton skyline. During the day, smoke billows from cold mouths and specks of snow lightly dust the ground. 

As the holidays approach, typically a time for giving, there’s an overall sense of joy and care in the air. 

The Student Athlete Council at St. Thomas University is planning its routes and preparing its knocks for when they go door-to-door for a food drive on Dec. 10.

Co-Chair Kait Benjamin said it’s a great initiative to help out the community.

“The holidays are a really tough time for a lot of families, so it’s a great feeling knowing that you’re helping out in your community during such a difficult time,” said Benjamin. 

When Benjamin participated in her first food drive as a member of the council during 2021, she said it was a little different than what happens now. 

In the midst of COVID-19, the athletes didn’t go house-to-house as they didn’t know how people would respond, Benjamin said. Boxes were set up around the city and donors would drop off non-perishable food items without the human connection that comes with the holidays. 

The donations go to the STU Food Bank and Greener Village, which then disperse the items to people who need them. 

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have loosened, athletes are going out into the city to talk and connect with people in hopes of getting donations.

“This will be a nice change to interact with the community,” said Benjamin. 

Before venturing out across Fredericton, men’s and women’s basketball played Crandall University on Dec. 2, and the volleyball teams played the University of New Brunswick Saint John on Dec. 3. They saw donation boxes set up at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym for fans and athletes to donate. 

Although only five of the 10 STU teams are using donation boxes at games, all of them will go out to collect donations.

Benjamin said that in past years, they brought the donations back to the J.B. O’Keefe Fitness Centre to divide and take to the STU Food Bank and Greener Village.

The donation boxes have yielded results for both food and cash donations, according to Marketing and Events Coordinator Eric Moffatt, who said the amount for 2021 was around $250 in cash and gift cards, with over 300 food items being donated. 

This year, the Student Athlete Council hopes to bring in more donations, but is grateful for anything they get. 

“You just want to get as much as possible to be able to help as many families in the community,” said Benjamin.