Nick Richardson and Adam Woods played on a 2009-2010 William Chrisman High School basketball team that didn’t win a game.

Nick Richardson and Adam Woods played on a 2009-2010 William Chrisman High School basketball team that didn’t win a game.

Yet they are winners.

Oh my goodness, they’re winners whose story transcends the basketball court.

It goes deep into our community – a community that is a much better place because Nick and Adam live here.

“You want to talk about a couple of remarkable young men, you can talk about Nick and Adam,” William Chrisman basketball coach John Vickers said.

“Every month in the Independence School District, we have a word of the month. In October, the word was INTEGRITY, and a student from our high school is honored for having great integrity.”

The student who received that honor was Richardson.

And in a cool twist, he shared it with a Chrisman faculty member – his coach, John Vickers.

“To win that honor was pretty special,” Richardson said, “but to share it with someone you respect and admire as much as I respect and admire Coach Vickers made it even more special.”

This month’s word is CITIZENSHIP.

Want to guess who won the honor?

That’s right, Adam Woods.

“It’s a real honor,” Woods said, when asked about joining Vickers and Richardson in the real-world winner’s circle. “There’s so much more to life than basketball, but right now, with the season coming up, we want to have a great basketball season and we want to make a difference in the community.”

So Nick and Adam have come up with an idea that will help fill the empty pantry shelves at the Salvation Army located on Truman Road.

The young philantropists are starting a program called LIVE TO FEED.

They met with Salvation Army officials, who donated barrels that fans can fill with non-perishable food items at all William Chrisman home basketball games.

“Can you believe that?” Vickers said, grinning from ear to ear. “It was all their idea. How amazing is that, two young guys hear about the food pantry being empty and they go out and decide to do something about it.

“I’ve been proud of my players in the past. You know that Jon (Ekey, who is now playing basketball at Illinois State) ran the program where he collected school supplies for needy elementary school kids.

“Nick and Adam are helping to feed hungry people right here in Independence.”

Barrels will be placed at all home Bears games, and also at the Apple Market store located near William Chrisman on 24 Highway.

When I spoke with Nick and Adam today, they were thrilled to report that they had just returned from the Salvation Army, where they had dropped off more than 450 items that have already been collected.

“We’re part of the Character Counsel, that includes kids from Truman and Chrisman, and we talk about ways to help the community – you know, different community activities that make Independence a better place,” Richardson said.

Added Woods, “One project was cleaning up a park. That’s important, but then we heard about the Salvation Army food pantry closing down, and at this time of year especially, we thought it was more important help people get food.

“We have the support of our coach and our administration and Mr. (Dan) Ogle (the Chrisman activities director). It’s kind of exciting to see how much food we can contribute.

“It would be great if fans associated Bears home games with canned goods or non-perishable food items. We want to fill a lot of barrels.”

If this story doesn’t fill your soul with the warm glow of Thanksgiving than you need a heart transplant.

Two young men are taking it upon themselves to make a difference, and all those needy individuals who visit the Salvation Army pantry – and see the shelves stocked with canned goods and other items – can thank a couple of Bears who take CITIZENSHIP and INTEGRITY to the next level.

“Can me mention that Rockwood Golf Club is already getting involved,” Woods said. “If you bring in three canned goods you can get a $5 gift certificate. If you bring in 10 or more, you get a $10 gift certificate – but it only lasts until the end of November.”

If you are an individual, or part of business, and would like to help Nick and Adam, give Coach Vickers or Dan Ogle a call at 521-5355 and let them know how their story served as an inspiration this Thanksgiving holiday season.

Or simply bring a canned good to a Bears game.

Nick and Adam aren’t going to change the world – just the little part of it we live in here in Independence.