NATCHITOCHES – Donovan Duvernay has yet to take a snap for the Northwestern State football team and has been part of the university community for no more than two months.
But Wednesday morning, Duvernay was one of several dozen Demons braving the mid-morning heat to help the Food Bank of Central Louisiana distribute food for those affected by Hurricane Laura, which reached Natchitoches as a Category 2 storm Aug. 27.
“This community has brought me in – this football team has brought me in,” said Duvernay, a graduate transfer cornerback from the University of Texas. “I just want to help out any way I can to give back to them for what they’ve done for me.”
Former Demon All-American offensive lineman and N-Club Hall of Famer Marcus Spears helped coordinate Wednesday’s giveaway, which saw cars snake their way through the parking lot between Prather Coliseum and the Jack Fisher Tennis Complex before finding their way to the Collins Pavilion where the Demons and food bank volunteers loaded up families with water, meat, non-perishable items and fresh produce.
Head coach Brad Laird and his staff were there as well with Laird acting as a traffic director, summoning the cars to the distribution point once volunteers determined the amount of goods for each family. Players and graduate managers worked both sides of the line, setting up assembly lines to stock each arriving vehicle.
“It’s great to come out and support this community,” said junior cornerback Shemar Bartholomew, a New Orleans native. “This community supports us on the field each Saturday night. They ride with us, win or lose. It’s great to be able to come out and help them.”
Spears played a pivotal role in helping bring Wednesday’s event to campus. He wanted not only to assist the area he calls his “second home,” but to give the NSU football players a teachable moment even though their fall schedule has been postponed.
It was a lesson that permeated the NSU roster from the top down.
“When you look at what’s going on with COVID-19 and the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, there are families in this community who are still recovering,” Laird said. “To be able to put a smile on the faces in the aftermath of what we have gone through is immeasurable. In three hours, we were able to feed 322 families. For them to be able to come through with what they have gone through, to put a smile on their face is a credit to the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, Marcus Spears and our players and coaches.”