Community Service

Our alumni continue to strive to embody to Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) throught community service activities in the Tampa Bay community.

Operation Gratitude

This year members of the chapter collected cash and items to be shipped overseas. Many also wrote personal letters of support for the men and women serving in the military. Read more about Operation Gratitude

Hokie Bird Fights Hunger

Our annual Hokie Bird Fights Hunger campaign has partnered with groups like Metropolitan Ministries that is a community-based organization that cares for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless by providing services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency.

During the holidays many families turn to Metropolitan Ministries for holiday food baskets. Each year, they anticipate a need for thousands food baskets for Thanksgiving and thousands more for food baskets for Christmas.

Help fight hunger with the Tampa Bay Chapter of Virginia Tech Alumni Association and Metropolitan Ministries.

Look for communication on how you can donate your time and/or money (see PayPal Donate button on our home page).

History of Hokie Bird Fights Hunger

Reprinted from Virginia Tech Magazine

Gobble, gobble, gobble: The HokieBird fights hunger

In 1998, newly elected program chairman for the Tri-Cities alumni chapter representing Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, Fla., [the late] William “Bill” Duckhardt (agriculture ’53) of Sarasota, a retired vice president of marketing and sales, knew he “wanted to do something for the community.”
The result was the HokieBird Fights Hunger campaign, an idea inspired by the live gobbler that was Tech’s mascot when Duckhardt was a cadet. Enthusiastically approved by former chapter president Mike Pietrzyk (civil engineering ’76), secretary Will Allanson (industrial engineering ’57), and treasurer Bill Sams (electrical engineering ’64), the campaign, now approaching its fifth year, raises money to buy holiday turkeys for families in need. To date, the chapter has distributed more than 300 birds annually, and last year’s poultry donation tipped the scales at 4,000 pounds.

Mike Pietrzyk ’76, Mike Leahy ’88, and Mike Schnell ’86

With funds solicited from its approximately 300 members, the Tri-Cities chapter buys the gobblers, rents a truck–which is adorned with a Virginia Tech banner–and donates one turkey to each family chosen by Metropolitan Ministries, the areas largest organization fighting poverty and homelessness.

Duckhardt notes that the chapter selected the not-for-profit, faith-based organization because of its commitment to helping the homeless. “I also spend a couple of days during the holidays working there,” he says.

Due largely to the chapter’s ongoing dedication and service, the event has become so successful that Metropolitan Ministries has invited other universities to participate in its Turkey Bowl competition to raise funds and secure food and toy donations for area families during the holiday season.

The program has also generated plenty of local press for the Tri-Cities chapter, which has received three consecutive outstanding chapter awards from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, encouraging fellow chapters to undertake similar programs that embody the Ut Prosim spirit. In response, the Alleghany Highlands chapter, the First State (Delaware) chapter, the Middle Tennessee chapter, the New River Valley chapter, the Philadelphia chapter, and the Tidewater chapter each sponsors an annual HokieBird Fights Hunger campaign.

Duckhardt admits that the Tri-Cities chapter hopes that someday “all 90 alumni chapters will follow our lead, for most have more potential than we do.” And that’s talking turkey.