WINSTON-SALEM, NC - For over 10 years, the Winston-Salem State University Department of Athletics in conjunction with is Student Athletes Advisorty Committee (SAAC) has made sure that the community surrounding the institution know that they care.
Community service has always been a staple of NCAA schools and teams from its outset, and the WSSU Rams have made sure that they are doing their part.
This years several WSSU athletic teams have done thier part inhelping throughout the community, and as the holiday season approaches, the entire department is making sure the Winston-Saslem community is once again touchded by the Rams in a special way. This year's special holiday recipient is the Chick-fil-A Angel Tree Program.
The Chick-fil-A Angel Tree program assists The Salvation Army in helping countless families and children, from 1 month to 11 years of age have a brighter holiday celebration. The WSSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) annually spearheads the holiday initiative among all athletic teams. This year, each team was responsible for providing gift items for the Chick Fil-A Angel Tree. Past S.A.A.C. holiday initiatives have included can food drives, toy drives and other angle tree projects.
"It's an awesome feeling to be able to pour in to the lives of those who are less fortunate. Projects like these demonstrate good citizenship amongst the student-athletes and serve as a constant reminder that we cannot take the small things in life for granted. We realize that we are only one school and cannot do everything, but we can do something. We are determined not to let what we cannot do interfere with what we can. We have vowed to continually give and be difference makers in the lives of others," says Walker.
"I think Winston-Salem State's generosity is just awesome," says Lynn Mendenhall in the hospitality division of Chick-fil-A. "We have a lot of boys and girls that are very sad these days. They come from broken homes, and families going through hardships. This is really, really a bright spot for these children. The athletes at WSSU are awesome, very giving and very thoughtful for doing this. A lot of us today are very narcissistic and thoughtfulness is what we need more of everywhere," says Mendenhall.
Each sport team at Winston-Salem State was charged with collecting gifts for a child - ranging from an infant to a teenager.
So far throughout the first semester of the 2011-12 school year, 167 total Winston-Salem State University student-athletes, have logged a combined 753 community service hours in the Winston-Salem/Triad area.
That is real commitment from Winston-Salem State University Athletics.
"What we have shown, and are seeing, is that our teams and athletes care about the community in which they play and go to school," says Director of Athletics, William "Bill" Hayes.
"We have said all along that this University is a reflection of our community," Hayes adds.
The WSSU Rams team have done everything from diversity basketball camps to visiting nursing homes to home improvements to volunteering at tennis event and assembling houses for stray cats, to name a few.
"I believe what we are doing with our teams out in the Winston-Salem community, will pay dividends in the long run for this department," says Kevin Manns, Assistant AD for Media Relations. "There is a commitment that goes beyond just doing something to appease a few. This is truly an effort that these kids want to be a part of. They want to make a difference, to touch someone in way to make them better. These student-athletes know we are living in some tough times, and if they can do something to make others feel better about themselves, that goes a long way. That says a lot about the character of the kids we recruit for our teams," says Manns.
The Winston-Salem State Lady Rams basketball team spent September 10th at the Potter's House Community Resource Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. In conjunction with the HandsOn NWNC Project, the Lady Rams coaching staff and players spent an afternoon helping to enrich the lives of the less fortunate in the Winston-Salem, N.C. community. The Potter's House Community Resource Center's mission is to build a strong community by enriching the quality of life for individuals and families through personal involvement in their lives by investing in their education, welfare, and improvement of living conditions. The Lady Rams spent the afternoon performing many duties from house cleaning to room organization to landscaping and gardening.
"Today was an empowering day for our young ladies," WSSU head women's basketball coach Stephen Joyner, Jr. said. "To be able to assist in the Winston-Salem community is always an added asset to the community and the WSSU family. One of our main goals is to make sure our players are aware of how fortunate they are and what they must give back. Life is not always about what you can get out of it, but what you can give to someone else."
The Winston-Salem State Rams reached out to the community as well when several student-athletes from the 2010-11 CIAA Southern Division Champions, enjoyed an evening of interaction with youth ages 5-12 at the Kernersville Family YMCA September 22nd. The Rams use their knowledge of the game to serve as volunteer instructors for the YMCA's Basketball Academy. The WSSU student-athletes enthusiastically motivated the young, aspiring athletes to work hard, seek to master fundamentals, and to achieve academically. The highlight of the event saw the young players get a chance to show their skills against the Rams in a 5-on-5 scrimmage. The parents of the participants raved about the fun and interactive nature of the event and were appreciative of the Rams' support of the youth.
"It's about giving back," WSSU head men's basketball coach Bobby Collins said. "I want these young men to understand how blessed and fortunate they are. We are obligated to utilize our fortunes in a positive manner for the benefit of others. That's what's in my heart, and I want it in the hearts of my players."
The Rams basketball program is no stranger to the Kernersville Family YMCA as WSSU assistant coach Theo Howard has been volunteering his time to manage the Basketball Academy since 2007. "It is very rewarding to assist with the development of these young beginners," Howard said. "I understand the power of service to the community."
The Winston-Salem State Rams baseball team made time to give back, this December when members of the Rams baseball team assisted the Fur Ever Friends of North Carolina Adoption & Outreach Program. Members of the Rams baseball team spent two weekends in November, assembling cat shelters for the organization.
"Any time that we can assist a local organization in improving the welfare of the community it becomes one of our top priorities," WSSU head baseball coach Kevin Ritsche said, "The boys enjoyed themselves and were always happy to give back."