Natchez football team collects cans for Stewpot

Published 12:55 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School football team felt grateful for all the support the community has given it in recent seasons.

So the players decided it would be a good idea to give back.

On Friday, members of the Bulldogs unloaded canned goods they collected for the Natchez Stewpot, and helped the Ballet Magnificat set up its Friday night performance at the city auditorium.

“We’re helping them build the stage and arrange things, and also helping put lights up,” said senior Bulldog Raymond Williams.

The community service work is something that the players had been wanted to do for a while, senior Joseph Perry said.

“All of this was coach (Lance) Reed’s idea, but we were trying to figure out what we could do, so this kind of came together. We wanted to do something, we just didn’t know what at first,” Perry said.

Reed said the activities were part of a much larger plan to give back to the community over the course of the summer.

“We tried to come up with a plan where we could add some community service projects to our summer schedule,” Reed said.

“So often, we do fundraisers to raise money for ourselves, but this time we wanted to show the community thanks for what they’ve done and do for us. It turned out wonderfully, and we hope to keep doing it.”

And Perry said he hopes pouring out into the community will further add to the support it gives the football team each fall.

“This is supposed to be a big year for us, and if they give us more support, that might help us take that extra step that gets us a little bit farther this year,” Perry said.

Reed agreed, saying it was always good to have the stands filled with people on Friday nights.

“We live in this community, so us and the community go hand-in-hand. There are many needs around here that we’d like to come out and address,” Reed said.

Community service is also part of the overall vision Reed has for his players, he said.

“The bottom line is, although we’re a football team, the basic concept of what we do is try to develop young men,” he said.

“Character and academics, those things are just as important as football. We’re trying to build not just good football players, but people who are productive citizens. That’s the most rewarding thing we get out of our program.”

Senior Justin Hamilton said he hopes some of the younger players pick up on what the team’s trying to do this summer and maintain it.

“It’s good to come out and do stuff, and to enlighten the younger guys to do things for the community,” Hamilton said.

“Hopefully one day they can follow in our footsteps and do things the right way instead of totally wrong.”