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Student athletes hold a coat drive

Local high school football players stepped up to give back this holiday season.

The Lakeland High School football team hosted a Cavalier Coat and Toy Drive to provide for those in need on the afternoon of Dec. 17.

From 3 to 5 p.m., Suffolk residents could find Lakeland High School football players standing along East Washington Street directing cars to their base of operations at the 500 E. Washington St. lot to make a donation.

“The students are athletes, but they also need to learn how to give back and be an asset to the community,” said Eric Knight, the Lakeland High School assistant coach. “They also need to learn how to have cheer while doing it, especially when giving back during the holidays.”

This drive was to collect new toys, coats, clothes, shoes and socks to donate to Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, who would distribute to those who need it the most in the area. The players also dished out homemade chili to anyone who was in need of a hot meal, along with bottles of water.

“We’re out here to give back to the community we came from,” said Kyree Christian, one of the football players helping serve chili.

“We’re helping people that need it the most,” added David Cosendine, another football player volunteering at the drive.

Joe Jones, the head coach at Lakeland High School, wanted to keep the team engaged despite the shutdown keeping them apart. Being in the middle of a global pandemic, the team looked to do something for the community and help in these difficult times. The team communicated over texts and put their heads together to create this event.

“This is player-driven,” said Jones. “We, as the coaching staff, just backed them up the best we could.”

This drive will not be the last community event from the Lakeland High School football team and coaches. According to Knight, the team will be back out to serve again.

“We will be out here, and we hope to do something like this again,” said Knight. “We just want to find ways to give back and do something for Suffolk.”