Peoples Bank donates to Joe Burrow initiative

A local bank and a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick in the NFL draft have partnered to help fight hunger in Athens County.

Chuck Sulerzyski, Peoples Bank president and CEO, said Thursday his bank had donated $25,000 to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund. The fund is an endowment fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio to help the Athens County Food Pantry.

“We’ve been big on fighting hunger,” Sulerzyski said. “Our employees donate more than $10,000 a month through employee deductions.”

He said earlier this year, they gave $250,000 to fight hunger and helping the Joe Burrow fund was a big deal for “a little bank in southeast Ohio.”

Burrow was the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner, as he led Louisiana State University to the national championship in 2019. In the 2020 NFL draft, he was the No. 1 pick, drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. He started playing football as a backup quarterback at The Ohio State University, eventually transferring to LSU in 2018.

“His father was a football coach at OU in Athens,” Sulerzyski said. “He was a very positive influence on Joe.”

In Burrow’s Heisman Trophy speech, he was visibly emotional when he talked about his home in Athens County.

“Coming from Southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area,” he said. “The poverty level is almost two times the national average. There are so many people there that don’t have a lot.”

He said he was up on stage receiving the award for all of the children back home.

“I’m here here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table….hungry after school.” he said. “You guys could be up here, too.”

According to Feeding America, Athens County is home to about 12,970 people who are food insecure, as of 2016. It’s about 19.9 percent of the population, making Athens County the most food insecure county in Ohio.

Sulerzyski said it is important that the funds going to fight hunger be multiplied.

“I think (Burrow) has the ability to get other donors,” he said. “We do what we can to fight hunger and do what we can to encourage others to fight hunger.”

He said food insecurity is important, but not talked about.

“It’s hidden. People are embarrassed about it,” he explained. “With school being closed, food can be hard to come by. We want to support organizations (like the hunger fund) that make a difference.”

For more information about the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, including how to donate, visit joeburrowfund.org.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

•Peoples Bank donated $25,000 to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund.

•The fund supports the Athens County Food Pantry.

• Burrow is an Athens native.

•He won the Heisman Trophy in December and was the number one pick in the NFL draft, doing to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Source: Times research.


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