Photo by Joseph Lachance | B.O.N.D delivered 511 cans to Rhody Outpost.

The University of Rhode Island student organization, Brothers On a New Direction, teamed up with the Ram’s Den to donate 511 canned and nonperishable goods to Rhody Outpost and other local food pantries.

B.O.N.D. is a multicultural organization on campus that focuses on aiding the community, professional growth and uplifting men of color. The food drive’s original purpose was to serve as a lesson to younger members but has turned into something much bigger than expected.

Jimmy Rodrigues is the brotherhood chair of B.O.N.D. and supervises prospective members and the process they go through to become members of the organization. At an event the club held in the Ram’s Den, prospects were told that they had to clean up afterward. Rodrigues was contacted by staff after the aspiring members failed to do so.

At first B.O.N.D. considered having their prospects clean the Ram’s Den, but then decided to take their lesson in a different direction by giving back to the community. “We decided, in collaboration with Ram’s Den, to do a canned food drive,” Rodrigues said. “The turnout was amazing.”

Rodrigues said that the task quickly changed in the eyes of their members. “After the first day, they enjoyed it,” said Rodrigues. “They wanted to come in. They wanted to be there. They wanted to collect.”

The members collected mostly monetary donations from people in the Ram’s Den which were then used to buy the nonperishable goods. Rodrigues said, “Just goes to show what can be done if you put the effort in. What you can do to give back to the community.”

The President of B.O.N.D., Corvah Akoiwala said, “The first day we saw how many cans we raised and after that, we were like ‘Wow, this can actually be monumental.’ We just kept it going.”

When asked if B.O.N.D. planned to hold their food drive again, their response was a resounding yes. Rodrigues said, “We want to make it an annual thing.”

The 511 cans collected is greater than the Rhody Outpost needed.150 of the cans have gone to Rhody Outpost and the rest will be taken to other food pantries in the area. Jacqui Tisdale works in the Dean of Students Office as the assistant director of outreach and intervention. Along with her staff, she administratively oversees the Rhody Outpost, located in the St. Augustine’s Church on Lower College Road. Rhody Outpost is not accepting the total donation from B.O.N.D. to make sure the food that is distributed will be put to good use. Tisdale said that they want to make sure they are “able to share those items with places like the Community College of Rhode Island campuses, as well as the JonnyCake Center where the students who attend CCRI for example, or the families that go to the JonnyCake Center.”

“The overall take away for me is just to give back with your whole heart– to be honest,” Akoiwala said. “Don’t think about recognition. We honestly did it out of our hearts.”

B.O.N.D. wants to leave something behind that is bigger than themselves, Akoiwala said. “I hope it leaves a legacy behind for B.O.N.D. to just keep going, have energy and think of new ways to give back to the community.”