Winning formula: GCU athletes collect items for needy
By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University athletes are channeling their competitive and giving spirits this month by collecting backpacks, toiletries and canned foods for the needy.
Their charitable efforts are part of a contest sponsored by Student Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs) in the eight-school Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
The university that collects the most donations wins, and GCU’s athletes plan on doing just that.
“We’re athletes, so we are naturally competitive. We want to help others and we want to win,” said Chloe Jenkins, a senior volleyball player and vice president of GCU’s SAAC.
The drive runs through March 31.
GCU will donate the collected items to Neighborhood Ministries, a Christian charity in Phoenix that for more than 30 years has helped struggling families get back on their feet.
The ministry operates educational and recreational programs for children, a thrift shop, a food bank, a program for young moms and a shop that teaches teenagers to build and repair bicycles.
Along with helping the ministry, WAC’s charitable drive keeps student-athletes connected to the community, said Jenna Pearson, LOPES for Life coordinator for academics and student-athlete development.
“It helps athletes look outside themselves. Sometimes they become so consumed with their performance that they have trouble staying connected to the community,” she said.
Jenkins agreed, saying, “It’s great to give back to someone in need. It keeps us grounded.”
The drive also fits with GCU’s tradition of service and giving. Last spring, GCU won the WAC-sponsored T-shirt drive, and University athletes are poised for a repeat.
She said SAAC, an advisory committee of athletes from all GCU sports teams, is drumming up support for the donation drive on social media and by talking with friends, neighbors and staff.
Donations are being collected in boxes at Lopes Performance Center, the Student Athlete Development Center and the athletic offices in the Student Life Building.
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.