Over $320k raised after Burrow highlights hometown poverty issues during Heisman speech

Fundraiser for Burrow's hometown quickly raises more than $270k

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Tiger fans and others across the nation have donated more than $270,000 to charities in southeastern Ohio as of Monday evening (Dec. 16), just two days after LSU QB Joe Burrow made reference to the poverty rate in his hometown during his Heisman trophy acceptance speech.

“Coming from southeast Ohio it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average. There’s so many people there that don’t have a lot and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too," Burrow said.

Less than a day after Louisiana’s newest son brought the Heisman trophy back to the Bayou State, the first time since Billy Cannon in 1959, people took to social media in an attempt to remedy Burrow’s concerns.

Will Drabold, a journalism graduate of Ohio University’s class of 2016, launched a fundraiser for the Athens County Food Pantry. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 10,000 people raised over $320,000. The original goal of $1,000 was shattered overnight and incrementally bumped up to $300,000.

The target will likely be raised again.

“The students at The Plains watched Joey’s Heisman speech today at school. This fundraiser was also announced to the kids,” Drabold, who says his wife is a teacher at Burrow’s elementary school, posted on Facebook. “One of my wife’s 3rd graders came up to my wife and said, ‘I go to the food bank,’ with her eyes beaming. She was proud to say that she did. She was proud!”

“When Joe Burrow mentioned how hungry the children of Athens were, I wanted to help in some way,” said Lois Young Stuckey, who launched a separate $5,000 fundraiser for the food pantry.

And Louisiana native Shelby Christian launched one of her own, which had exceeded its $5,000 goal as of Monday morning.

Athens Football tweeted out a thank you note to everyone who has started collecting money for southeast Ohio children.

“We are overwhelmed with the support/donations being shown towards our community food pantry after Joe’s Heisman speech last night. As we are writing this between the 3 separate fundraisers we have eclipsed 40k dollars in just over 12 hours. A giant thank you is due to our Louisiana and local donators! Let’s keep this thing going!” the program tweeted.

The Athens County Food Pantry serves food to more than 5,000 households in the county each year. They provide 9,000 meals a month for less than 50 cents a meal.

“He’s raised (awareness) to a new level with the national platform that he had at the Heisman ceremony,” Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank president Mike Manning said. “He’s really lifted all boards by making it something we all need to think about.”

Manning said food insecurity has an especially troubling impact on children.

You can also donate to the Greater Baton Rouge food bank here.

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