South Carolina student-athletes are in the spirit of giving, or more appropriately, giving back. The Gamecocks took time off from athletics activities to volunteer in several community service projects over the last week throughout the city of Columbia as part of South Carolina's annual Week of Giving.
"It's always nice to be able to give back," said Weber Pike, a redshirt sophomore on the baseball team while volunteering at Harvest Hope Food Bank. "It makes you feel good to be able to help people out."
Activities include serving meals to the homeless at Transitions, packing food at Harvest Hope Food Bank, decorating and various clean-up work at the Ronald McDonald House, packing and delivering meals to the elderly with Meals on Wheels, providing clinics and roundtable discussions for children at area schools and spending time with local Boy Scouts.
"It's important to give back to the community," said Sabrina D'Angelo, a senior on the women's soccer team while helping to prepare meals at Meals on Wheels. "They give so much to us by supporting us at our games, and it's time for us to give back to them. It easy for all of us to do it. Nobody hesitates to sign up. We like it."
More than 100 student-athletes, representing all of South Carolina's varsity sports were represented in the 21 service opportunities according to Erica Nelson, Director of Life Skills and Community Outreach.
"It is a busy time for the student-athletes, but most of the projects are no longer than two hours, so they make time to participate," Nelson said. "With opportunities spanning from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., this flexibility has increased volunteer participation."
"It's important to give back to the community. They give so much to us by supporting us at our games, and it's time for us to give back to them.Sabrina D'Angelo
Kevin Stahlberger, who is the Service Manager for Senior Resources which runs Meals on Wheels and other similar programs, said the organizations are always glad to get the extra help, and those being served by the organizations are appreciative as well.
"We do about 200 meals from one site and 50 from another site each day," Stahlberger said. "We're always looking for volunteers, and individuals who receive the meals love seeing the student-athletes. They appreciate it, and they just enjoy seeing young people take time to help too."
Student-athletes volunteer for community service activities throughout the year and many look forward to the next opportunity, such as junior Alyanie Page from the softball team, who made a return trip to assist at the Ronald McDonald House.
"It's really something that touches my heart every time I think about it," Page said. "Every time I come here I think about that woman I met the last time I was here. It's just really humbling to know that we're helping somebody."
While the Gamecocks are taking final exams this week, the student-athletes were able to keep some perspective about the importance of being involved with the community.
"It's nice to help people have a nice holiday and to give back," said Jordan Gore, a sophomore on the baseball team who volunteered at Harvest Hope. "It makes you feel good, and you're helping people get some food and other things they need."