THAXTON, Va. (WFXR) — The men lifted crate after crate of venison into the back of the pickup truck.
“Five hundred pounds,” one said.
“No, a thousand,” said another.
Finally, a third chimed in, “Thirteen hundred pounds.”
“I’ll take it all,” said Pastor David Burgess.
Burgess runs the Christian Soldiers Food Pantry in southeast Roanoke. The pickup truck was his. The cargo of precious deer meat was destined for the hundreds of hungry people Burgess feeds every week.
“Anybody could be in this position,” said Burgess. “They’re not there voluntarily.”
So, where did this bounty of venison come from?
The answer: Hunters for the Hungry.
Hunters for the Hungry is a volunteer group that collects donations of deer harvested by hunters around the commonwealth.
“Hunters donate the deer, processors skin, cut, wrap, and freeze the meat,” said Hunters for the Hungry Director Gary Arrington. “We facilitate getting it to these feeding programs so they can get it to their clients at no cost.”
The group traces its roots back to 1991 when it was formed. Since then, Hunters for the Hungry has distributed more than seven million pounds of deer meat.
The program works with processors like Backroad Butcher in Thaxton.
“We take the deer as it comes in, do all the processing, grind it, turn it into burger, said Backroad Butcher owner Tim Overstreet. “We love helping out folks and knowing everyone’s fed.”
“We take a God-given renewable natural resource that we have in the whitetail deer, and we’re able to touch lives in the most noble of ways,” added Arrington.
Hunters for the Hungry takes donations of deer, as well as monetary donations. The Christian Soldiers Food Pantry also takes donations. It is looking for volunteers, as well.