Jerky for a cause

A+small+portion+of+the+dozens+of+boxes+of+jerky+in+Coach+Schneider%27s+room%2C+Sept.+30.

A small portion of the dozens of boxes of jerky in Coach Schneider’s room, Sept. 30.

The Boys Varsity Soccer Team is reaching across 7,000 miles to the troops stationed in Afghanistan. The players are collecting beef jerky and money to support the men and women serving our country oversees.

“I like the boys to have some sort of service project to give back,” Coach Gary Schneider, head soccer coach, said. “It shows them it’s okay to give back to the community and that everything isn’t about them.” 

The boys distributed pamphlets in their neighborhoods and collect jerky for troops in Afghanistan through the fall, Coach Schneider.

Troops spend a lot of time outside in the field, walking around on patrol, making it hard for them to get a substantial meal.

“Usually they can’t go out to eat when they’re in the field,” Kyle Gardner, midfield, said. “They need something quick that they can snack on.”

The soccer team collects donations of jerky, as well as money to pay for shipping as well as more jerky, at Eureka football games. 

“We saw a big response from the football community,” Coach Schneider said. “At the Eureka-Lafayette game, we raised $1,000.”

Given the size and weight of the jerky, shipping can be expensive, with last year’s shipping costing $600.

Last year was the first year the team had done the drive, raising 250 lbs. of jerky, according to Mitch Chambliss, defense. That’s 4,000 servings.

“This year we wanted to double what we did last year,” Chambliss said. “We’re going for 500 lbs.”

Because of this increase in weight, shipping for this year’s donations will cost over $1,000, according to Coach Schneider, which could buy approximately 26 lbs. of jerky.

“Coach Schneider has some buddies in Afghanistan,” Dan Eberle, midfield, said. “He was talking to them and they said that they love beef jerky; it’s easy to get and it helps them.”

Donations of cash can be made to help pay for the shipping or to purchase more jerky.

“We’re going to Schnucks to buy beef jerky with some of the money that’s been donated,” Nick Hoeflinger, midfield, said.

Donations can still be made in Coach Schneider’s room, room 901; he team hopes to ship by November or December and will be collecting until then, according to Coach Schneider

“We do the drive because the troops serve us,” Gardner said. “There’s no way we can repay the soldiers serving but every little bit counts.”

Despite large donations thus far, the team must continue to collect more jerky and money in order to meet their 500 lb. quota, according to Gardner.

“I don’t know how much jerky we’ve collected,” Coach Schneider said. “We won’t know how much we’ve collected until we’re done with the drive.”

Activities Director Dr. Jason Green’s cousin’s husband is supposed to be deployed this winter and is a contact that the team will use in order to give the donations to troops in Afghanistan, according to Coach Schneider.

“We were talking this summer, and he mentioned that he didn’t have a contact in Afghanistan this year and wanted to find someone to send it to.  Coach Schneider preferred that it be someone connected to the community,” Dr. Green said. “Although I have never served, I come from a family with that has served a lot through history.  I am very proud of that, so I am always excited about the opportunity to help serve our troops.”

The team is connected to troops in Afghanistan through people in the Eureka community.

“It’s an incredible thing to do,” Chambliss said. “I never would’ve expected the response we’ve gotten. It shows what the Eureka community is really like.”