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Heisman Trophy winner's speech inspires many donations to Ohio food pantry

Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 16, 2019

On Saturday night, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy by one of the most overwhelming margins in history, but the true winners on Saturday might have been in an Ohio town.

During his acceptance speech on Saturday, Burrow recognized those from his hometown of Athens, Ohio, a town of nearly 25,000 in Southeast Ohio. The city is home to Ohio University, which is known for its journalism school and annual Halloween party.

The city is also unfortunately known for its high poverty rate. According to the U.S. Census, 51.7% of Athens' residents are in poverty. The poverty rate nationally is around 12%.

Burrow mentioned the fact that many are struggling in his hometown while receiving college football's top honor.

"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," Burrow said.

Burrow offered encouragement to the children of Athens and Athens County.

"You guys can be up here, too," he said.

Those word inspired thousands throughout the nation to donate to the Athens County Food Pantry. As of this writing (late Monday evening), the food pantry has collected more than $3000,000 from more than 7,000 donors.

The Athens County Food Pantry says it serves 5,702 annually, and provides 3,450 meals per week. The food pantry says some of its recipients use the food pantry on a regular basis, while others are served only a few times a year.

"We are truly overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of support we have received to support our mission," the pantry said on Monday. "Many, many thanks to Joe Burrow for shining a light on food insecurity in our area and a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that has donated."

Late on Monday, the food pantry released an additional statement on the surge of support for the organization.

"For the fundraisers inspired by Joe Burrow, we are simply overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people," the statement read. "Our board will be having in-depth conversations about the best ways to use these funds. This is very new to us. We have never received an outpouring of financial support of this magnitude. We seek to be careful and deliberate in making these decisions, as the opportunities to further address food insecurity and hunger are numerous and the possibilities are nearly endless. If you have tried to contact us, and haven’t yet received a reply, please be patient. We have been swamped by the many messages and phone calls we have received."

According to its 2018 tax filing, the food pantry received $100,133 in contributions for the year. The pantry relies on volunteers to operate the pantry.

If you would like to make a donation, you can click here .