Student-Athletes Give Back During Holiday Season
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State student-athletes are giving back to local families in the Ames community this holiday season with the Adopt-A-Family program, sponsored by Youth Shelter Services (YSS).
The Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) was recently approached by YSS about donating holiday gifts and presents to families in the local community. All 18 varsity athletic programs worked together to provide warm beds, dishes on the table, and toys for toddlers for five families in the Ames community.
Women’s junior diver Tien Tran felt proud of her fellow Cyclones’ efforts. The Greewood, Ind. native thought some families needed just a little help for the holidays.
“This event is just a great way for us to help those who are less fortunate to have the holiday season they deserve,” Tran said. “It's really touching to give these people not only the necessities they need, but a little something extra that can make their holidays that much better.”
There were many student-athletes that did more than their share of work, with finals looming and their own family celebrations to get ready for. Each athletics team raised its own money and used those funds to buy gifts for families. They were provided lists with preferred gifts requested by the children and their families. The athletes then got together and wrapped the presents themselves.
Among those student-athletes who bought presents was women’s basketball player Amanda Nisleit. The senior from Woodbury, Minn. was happy to contribute to families in need during the holidays.
“Just last Saturday our team went shopping for the Adopt-A-Family program,” Nisleit said. “We are glad to be able to help out another family this season. We realize we are fortunate to be on scholarship playing basketball at such a great school. Our team was very excited to get the opportunity to help out another family in the community.”
In the end, all 18 teams contributed more than $800 to the five chosen families. Recommendations for student-athletes were to raise up to $50 for each member of the household. The cross-country and track and field programs donated more than $200 alone, and were able to sponsor one family themselves.
But for every student, there has to be a teacher. Jamie Hurst fills that void in every aspect. Iowa State’s Life Skills coordinator currently oversees SAAC, and was proud to see her student-athletes step up in a time of need.
“The commitment of our student-athletes to raise over $800 and purchase gifts for families in the community just goes to show you the quality of young people that we have at Iowa State University,” Hurst said. “The SAAC group took great initiative to get all the presents purchased for each adopted family. Junior hurdler Jenna Caffrey was a tremendous help in all aspects, taking on the responsibility of purchasing, wrapping, and delivering many of the presents.”
The gifts were delivered Wednesday to Youth and Shelter Services, just in time for the holidays. Among some of the bigger items donated were a car seat, a baby stroller, a bed spread, and an entire dining set. Of course the children still got some of their favorite toys too.
Current SAAC vice-president of community relations and women’s basketball player Shellie Mosman felt these gifts would brighten the day for many families over the Holidays.
“Not only does this program benefit those in need, but it is beneficial to our team as well,” Mosman said. “It gives us great pride in knowing that we can help someone else. It is also a lot of fun to go shopping as well. Overall, this is a very beneficial program and it is something we look forward to every year.”
SAAC and its student-athletes have already made a difference in someone’s life for the Holidays. The Student Athlete Advisory Council will work with Adopt-A-Family for many years to come, as there is always somebody out there in need of a gift for the holiday season.