Black College Alumni Chapters donate Thanksgiving baskets to local residents

Members from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities(HBCU’s)alumni chapters set aside school rivalries, in the name of giving recently, if only for a day. Florida A & M Rattlers pitched in with Bethune Cookman Wildcats while Morehouse Tigers worked alongside Hampton Pirates during their annual Turkey basket give-away. This was the scene at the Northwest Federated Women’s Club last week, as all joined forces to insure local families were provided with all the fixings needed to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

When FAMU’s Broward County Alumni Chapter sent out a call for action to other local HBCU alumni chapter, representatives from three area alumni chapters including; Bethune Cookman University, Hampton University, and Morehouse University answered the call, increasing the group which provided some much needed help to those in need during the holidays. According to FAMU’s Broward County Alumni President Mary Smith, her chapter reached out beyond the Rattler family so that more families would benefit from their efforts. Each HBCU alumni chapter was asked to assist 15 families each. They wound up handing out all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast, to families from through-out Broward County. The baskets featured everything from turkey and dressing, to string beans and yams, just in time for the holidays.

“FAMU spearheads this effort every year. This year we invited other HBCU’s to participate so that we could expand our efforts. Next year we hope we can get even more local alumni chapters to join in,” said.

The additional local alumni chapter presidents on hand for the give-away included; Johnny L. McCray Jr.-Bethune Cookman University, Dan Holmes-Morehouse University, and Tahlia Gray-Hampton University; each of them delivered a few jabs at the other’s school intermittently, as they delivered some holiday cheer.

Johnny L. McCray Jr. is a local Broward County attorney and a graduate of two HBCU’s including Bethune University in Daytona Beach, Florida and Howard University’s School of Law in Washington, D. C. McCray comes from a family of HBCU graduates including both his parents and his son and daughter who attended either Bethune Cookman or FAMU. He said community projects such as this effort was a reflection of his Black college experience. He said professors encouraged him and fellow students to give back to their community some of what they had gained while in school. The school’s founder Mary McLeod Bethune engrained that sentiment into the fabric of the university.

“This event is in keeping with the motto that has been instilled in Bethune Cookman graduates which states,’ enter to learn and depart to serve.” We’re departing to serve the community.”

Arrie Dowell a 90-year-old great grandmother who has lived in Dania, Florida for 40 years. She was the first one in line to receive her holiday treat. She patiently waited in line accompanied by her 25-year-old granddaughter, Shanatrice McCray and four year-old great-granddaughter, Asaciah Tyler, representing three family generations.

“I think what their doing is truly a blessing for me and my family,” said Dowell.

Ironically Joseph Drisdom is a member of two alumni chapters. He belongs to the Cameron University Alumni Association in Lawton, Oklahoma, where he attended and is the Parliamentarian for FAMU’s local alumni chapter, where his wife Jan serves as the chapter’s vice-president.

“I joined the FAMU alumni chapter five years ago because my school doesn’t have a local chapter. I think this was a great idea and hope that more people get involved to support our efforts and to support HBCU’s. I tell folks all the time to join the FAMU Alumni Association even if they didn’t attend FAMU. When they say that they didn’t attend that school, I say what difference does it make? We’re all trying to help students go to school. ,” said Drisdom.

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