Dec. 11, 2013
By Whitney Dixon
An old saying goes, "There is always strength in numbers." For the first University of Michigan women's lacrosse team in school history, the seemingly cliché statement couldn't be more true. Throughout the team's first fall season, the Wolverines have seen firsthand how effective a team can be when all members are striving for the same goal.
On Tuesday (Dec. 10), the Wolverines' strength in numbers expanded far beyond the lacrosse field or even the classroom. Nine student-athletes from the women's lacrosse team, as well as members of the coaching staff joined forces with several volunteers from the Michigan Athletics Department to donate their time at Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor. The opportunity to volunteer came as part of the Athletic Department's "12 Days of Giving" initiative.
Food Gatherers is a food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County that exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community.
"Our coaches and some of our team were able to take a couple hours out of our day to give back and remember how lucky we are," said freshman Sophie duPhily. It was an eye-opening experience, seeing how the people at Food Gatherers spend their whole day working to provide for others. I am very grateful that I was able to witness this because it reminds me to keep things in perspective."
With the help of the Michigan Athletics team members and student-athletes from the women's lacrosse team, more than 1,300 boxes of food were packaged to distribute to those in need throughout Washtenaw County.
With the heavy demands of being a collegiate student-athlete, finding time to give back to the community is not always the easiest task. However, with guidance from Michigan's newly formed Office of Community and University Engagement, as well as the various coaching staffs, being involved with the community is something U-M student-athletes take great pride in.
"With the semester coming to a close, finals around the corner, and the anticipation of going home for break, it is easy to get distracted and forget what is really important," said duPhily. "Luckily, as a student-athlete at the University of Michigan, they are constantly reminding us about the importance of being grateful for everything this opportunity has to offer."
For freshman Tess Korten, a native of Glen Head, N.Y., giving back to the local community is something her family has made a habit.
"It is always incredible to give back to the community, especially during this time of year," said Korten. "It is a tradition for my family to go to the food pantry in Astoria (N.Y.) on Thanksgiving to help organize and hand out food to those who are not as fortunate. It was great to be able to experience that with Team One, the coaches and staff."
The philosophy that drives Food Gatherers 365 days a year is "We believe that in a land of plenty, no one should go hungry!" The organization rescues food that would otherwise go to waste from more than 300 local sources including food retailers, restaurants, and food wholesalers. Through other local sources and generous donations, Food Gatherers is able to serve 150 non-profit agencies and programs, providing direct food assistance to those in need. In addition, their local Community Kitchen prepares and serves more than 100,000 meals to people in need each year.
In the midst of the holiday season, we often take for granted the basic necessitates that some people in the local community are not as fortunate to have. The idea behind the Athletic Department's "12 Days of Giving" initiative is to make those people's holiday season a little brighter and more enjoyable.
"During this experience, I was able to spend time with our team and members of the staff while giving back to the community," said freshman Sarah Lugo. "I'm so grateful to be able to help the less fortunate families, especially during this holiday season. It's even more important to give back during this time of year because it's a time to celebrate and be with your family."
"Many people take simple necessities for granted so to take a step back and really take in everything we are fortunate to have, being student athletes here at the University of Michigan, is definitely an eye-opening experience," added Korten. "It feels great to take part in an effort to help others and give back to the community."
The 28 student-athletes that make up Team One will call Ann Arbor home for at least the next four years and they are committed to making an impact on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
"Volunteering as a team allows us to give back together and help the Ann Arbor community, which has recently become our new home," said duPhily.
The collective efforts of the staff and student-athletes are just one example of how donating a small amount of time can make a big difference in the local community.
The women's lacrosse program wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season! Go Blue!