With holiday music setting the mood in the background, members of the Gophers football team took to a TCF Bank Stadium parking lot Monday evening and got a bit of a diversion from football, handing out turkeys during the second annual Row the Boat Turkey Drive.
Thanks to monetary donations from every Gophers player and contributions from Cub Foods, local families, through nine charitable agencies in the Twin Cities, received turkeys and other Thanksgiving food staples. Gophers players and coach P.J. Fleck distributed the items as cars lined up at the stadium.
“This feels good to help people out,’’ sophomore linebacker Bailey Schoenfelder said. “There’s a lot of people around that need help and maybe don’t want to get help, but we make it easy for them.’’
Added sophomore tight end Ko Kieft, “It gets your mind off all the schoolwork and football. It’s almost therapeutic, and it’s good to get out and help people.’’
As Fleck and Norries Wilson, the team’s director of player development, directed traffic outside the east end of the stadium on the brisk November night, players greeted and thanked those lined up for the items.
Through the drive, 220 turkeys plus Thanksgiving side dish items were distributed. Junior linebacker Carter Coughlin embraced the drive, one of several charitable events in which the Gophers participate each year.
“This is one of those opportunities where you can just gain a perspective,’’ he said. “Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, so this is a great way for us to show how thankful we are for all the blessings that we have and come out here as a team and bless other people.
“We’re all out here smiling and having a great time,’’ Coughlin added. “You can just see the smiles on people’s faces as they drive up.’’