Will Hudson was the first African-American to lead MATA. (Courtesy photo)

The imprint of William Hudson Jr. is forever etched upon the corporate citizenship of Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA). That’s why this year’s “Stuff A MATA Bus” food drive was dedicated to Hudson’s memory.

“Under his leadership, Stuff A MATA Bus was started because he felt it was MATA’s civic duty to serve our community in this way,” said MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld.  “In light of his recent passing, we wanted to honor his memory with an event we are happy to continue.”

Hudson would likely be proud. According to MATA’s Facebook Page, the event collected nearly 1,500 pounds of food to go with more than $2,500. Combined, the drive is expected to provide more than 8,700 meals, up from last year’s tally of 7,900 meals.

The event was a joint effort between MATA and the Mid South Food Bank.

“Thank you Memphis for contributing food and money,” said the Facebook post. “Because of your generosity, we far surpassed the goal!”

Hudson started the endeavor as president and general manager of MATA. He was the first African-American to hold the office and one of the first to integrate the transit staff. Hudson died on August 23.

“Mr. Hudson brought with him a spirit of community and caring, not only for MATA employees and clients, but also to Memphians in general,” said Hudson’s niece Alison Burton, herself a former MATA employee. “He made us a family of people who cared about each other and our city.

“If he was still here, Mr. Hudson would be so glad to know that this year’s event honored him,” she added. “We volunteered in a number of charitable events because he felt it was our duty. He would be pleased to be remembered for that.”

MATA parked the bus at the intersection of Poplar and Highland from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m on Friday, Sept. 13, where donors could leave food donations in canned goods and non perishable items. Teams of volunteers and MATA employees were also on hand to collect cash, checks and other monetary donations.

Every $5 generates 15 meals for families who sometimes go to bed hungry, according to a food bank representative.

“September is Hunger Action Month, and this food drive is a great way to promote awareness about hunger,” said Andrew Bell of the Mid-South Food Bank. “Nearly 200,000 people or more in Shelby County are food insecure. That is 20 percent of its residents. We appreciate every effort to help us address this issue.”

If you wanted to give, you haven’t missed your chance. To find out how you can contribute, call the food bank at: (901) 527-0841 or come by the 239 S. Dudley Street location.