Friday, February 12, 2016

Maryland Football Tackles our Coat Drive

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Breakfast? Check. Exhausting workout? Check. Volunteer at Catholic Charities coat drive? Check. All before 11 am.

On Friday morning, 24 players from the University of Maryland Football team volunteered at the Catholic Charities Coats of Many Colors drive. Coming straight from an intense morning workout, they were surprisingly unfazed by the 1,500 coats piled in the center of the room. The team’s task for the next hour was to sort, organize, and hang each jacket so they were easy to pick out for future guests in need of a coat.

The coats, donated by parishes, schools and individuals throughout the Archdiocese, ranged from infant jackets to XXL men’s coats and the Terps jumped right in. Teammates on the field, the Terps worked together to sort, hang and organize the coats in their own fashion. Quarterback Caleb Rowe, flung coats from the middle of the room to his receivers by the hangers.

A few running backs were in charge of passing out hangers to each rack and a blur of Terps were working around the room.  Within one hour, all of the coats hung neatly from the racks ready to be distributed to the community the following morning.

Director of Player Development, Bryce Bevill coordinates service projects for the team throughout the year. “It gives them the chance to see how fortunate they are and also gives them a chance to be a part of the community and help out how they can,” said Bevill. Coordinating volunteer opportunities for busy college athletes can be difficult but for Bevill, and the athletes, they see it as a must.

“I realize there are people out there who are less fortunate than me and if I can help somebody else and make them smile, that makes me smile,” said junior running back Marcus Smith.

Staff from our New York Avenue shelter came to pick up coats and express thanks to the Terps for their service. The players, for the first time all morning, were silent and still listening to the struggles the homeless face and the impact a coat can have on their lives.

As the players piled on to the bus to head back for class, one player hung back.  He asked, “How much do the kids coats cost?” After doing the math, he donated $60 so that the first 30 kids on Saturday morning would get a free coat. Put a smile on 30 kids faces? Check.