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Teams Volunteers at United Way Day of Caring

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11369300.jpegDay of Caring Photo Gallery

By Ryan Hickey, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Members of the Penn State men's basketball team woke up early Thursday morning to volunteer in the 22nd annual United Way Day of Caring event.

The team served breakfast at 7:30 a.m. to United Way volunteers in the Bryce Jordan Center.

"We are serving them breakfast before they get out on their day of caring," said guard Shep Garner. "We are serving [Volunteers] eggs, french toast, and sausage as a token and to let them know that we are here with them."

A theme the team talked about was being able to support the community that supports them on the court. The fans make sacrifices to attend the basketball games and the team is happy to be able to show they recognize that support and want to repay the favor anyway they can.

"It feels good to give back to the community. They take time out of their day to come support us and work so hard, so the least we can do is just give back to the community and it's the greatest thing you can do," said center Jordan Dickerson.

"It's fun. It's a full circle community service experience being able to give back and showing them we love what they do," said forward Donovon Jack. "It's something simple we can do for them to thank them for all the support they show us."

Time is not something that is very accessible when it comes to student-athletes. Whether it's practice, weight training, film study or going to class, the students rarely have much free time even in the offseason. With that said, many players said how the Penn State culture makes them well-rounded citizens and more than just athletes.

"It shows that we aren't just athletes. We are full-rounded people and always trying to be out there and helpful anyway we can be," said Jack.

The family environment is another reason why these players love being able to help out anyway they can, citing the Penn State bond is a bond that can never be broken.

"We are all just a family here," said Garner. "Penn State is a family. We are all one and it's not just the volunteers; we are with them too. We want to show our support."

Finally, it's also a break from the normal routine, giving the team a chance to bond off the court.

"It feels really good to help out your community. We do a lot of community service with the team and we are always trying to help out those who we can," said forward Julian Moore. "It brings us closer together. We are around each other all the time and it just helps us communicate better on the court."

Last year, the event was renamed the Col. Gerald Russell Day of Caring in honor of its founder and popular community figure. Russell led this event for years and after retiring last year, his name still lives on and is remembered for all he did for this day of service. 

Along with the men's basketball team, the other Penn State teams participating in the United Way Day of Caring included women's basketball and women's lacrosse. Women's basketball volunteered at the Centre Mansion, assisting with yard work on the property. The women's lacrosse team also participated in various outdoor chores, including gardening, painting and raking.

Through a wide-range of activities with organizations and groups of all ages, Penn State's approximately 800 student-athletes performed more than 5,300 hours of community service in 2014-15. The total number of hours created an average of nearly seven hours of service for each student-athlete this past year.    


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