Compassion. Pride. Competitiveness.
Those are the three driving factors behind the annual food drive conducted by the University of South Carolina School of Law, according to Professor Greg Adams.
“It is so important to remember how blessed and privileged we are, while many others struggle to survive and take care of their families,” said Adams. “Students are reminded that kindness and generosity are traits of the legal profession, important traits they should feel comfortable emulating. It is also a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty to work together for an important goal.”
The Pro Bono program at the School of Law has held the Best Class Food Drive since 1994, creating a competition between each class to raise the most donations for Harvest Hope Food Bank. The 2015 initiative kicked off with the “Hunger is NOT a Crock (Pot)” event on Monday, Nov. 2 and raised $443 for Harvest Hope’s Backpack Program, providing weekend meals for young public school students in need.
Donations went to Harvest Hope in other ways as well.
“In honor of Harvest Hope’s 35th anniversary, we set up what we called ‘35 Boxes for 35 Years,'” said Pamela Robinson, director of the Pro Bono program. “This list of 35 different items allowed smaller classes, student organizations, and groups the opportunity to participate, and that they did! We filled at least one box of each of the 35 targeted items, and for some items we filled many boxes.”
While the entirety of the law school was encouraged to participate, two professors sought to engage the classes in a more intense competition. Adams and fellow professor Seth Stoughton created a rivalry between two of their individual classes, challenging each other to raise the stakes.
“The chair of the food drive for my Problems in Professional Responsibility class and I went to Professor Stoughton’s Criminal Law class to challenge them to the contest,” said Adams, referring to the unannounced visit which could otherwise be described as a ‘taunting.’
“During the challenge, I bestowed upon Professor Stoughton the nickname ‘Hushpuppy’ because of his propensity to wear shoes like the comfortable suede shoes of the Hushpuppy brand,” Adams said. “In honor of that, I delivered a 25 pound bag of Adluh Mills Hushpuppy Mix to get the Criminal Law class serious about the size of the task ahead of them if they were going to really compete. Of course, we also mentioned that they were merely 1Ls and had no chance of really winning.”
With that, the gloves came off, and Stoughton found many unique ways to excite his class and increase their participation.
“I offered a few incentive packages, all of which were related to cold-calls,” said Stoughton, referring to the method of randomly calling on students to answer questions during class.
“A student could get out of a single cold call by donating a single non-perishable food item. A pair of students who together donated one “Stoughton” of food (150 pounds) would be immune from cold calls for all three classes during the week of the food drive. Finally, if the class raised a collective total of more than 5,000 pounds (33.3 Stoughtons), I would stop cold calling in that class for the remainder of the semester. I honestly didn’t expect to have to live up to my end of that bargain, but my students rose to the challenge!”
In the end, however, it wasn’t enough to overcome Adam’s class, which raised 8,714 pounds of food.
Overall, law students as a whole raised a whopping 32,839 pounds, with the class of 2017 raising the most—13,635 pounds. But even then, Robinson reminded students that “the real winners are those who will have meals because of everyone’s efforts.”
While prizes included the Class of 2017 earning the coveted crown, a luncheon provided by Adams and Stoughton for their two participating classes, and various other incentives, the most important prize was the lesson learned.
“I am continually inspired by my students’ generosity and enthusiasm… Having my students participate in the food drive isn’t about a silly inter-class competition or getting out of cold calls—it’s about understanding that not everyone benefits from things that we take for granted, about supporting less fortunate members of the community, and about instilling a commitment to public service,” Stoughton said. “That commitment is a long and proud tradition at the law school, and it’s an honor to be able to teach students who so enthusiastically continue that tradition.”