The students at High Point University – probably the state’s best known university worldwide – were engaged in the holiday spirit of giving this week.

A food drive conducted by the university’s Student Government Association donated nearly 500 meals to Open Door Ministries – a nonprofit that provides food for those in need in addition to operating a shelter for homeless men.

That food was delivered on Wednesday, Nov. 29 and was much appreciated by the recipients.

Every year, the students at the school conduct a food drive to provide community members in need quality meals during the holiday season.

Hannah Parson, the president of the Student Government Association, said that Thanksgiving was the perfect time for the drive.

“As students prepared to leave for Thanksgiving break, we encouraged them to donate their extra meals from their dining plans – which then became tangible food donations,” Parson said.

She added that more than 130 students took part in the drive, generating nearly 500 meals, which came to 400 pounds of food.

Open Door Ministries used the food to feed the needy.

Ryan Ross, executive director of Open Door Ministries, said that support from the university and other local organizations conducting food drives makes a huge difference for the people the ministry serves.

“With the economy and inflation, operational costs have increased while the need is increasing so much,” Ross said. “At the first of this year, we were serving 3,500 meals a month. In November, we served over 10,000 cooked meals. We also serve about 500 individuals through the food pantry. Right now, we’re housing 65 in the shelter. Individual cash donations have decreased so we depend on donations of food and clothing. Especially at the holiday season, if people will think of those in need and think of ways they can help contribute, it really makes a significant difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

Open Door Ministries Director of Advancement Ivan Huffman added that the gifts of food and support from High Point University allows Open Door to feed people without “worrying where the next meal is coming from.”

“In the last three months, we’re seeing more men and children utilizing our pantry,” Huffman said. “Open Door tries to not only alleviate homelessness but also prevent it.  We’re seeing more people ask for rental and utility assistance than ever before.”