Athletic Teams Offer a Helping Hand

PHILADELPHIA – In an effort to help the Hurricane Katrina victims the Penn athletic department did its part during the past two weeks. The volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer teams all took time out of their busy schedules to lend a hand.

The volleyball team helped the relief effort by charging admission to the Sheraton Invitational last weekend.

“The team really wanted to find a way to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina,” said head coach Kerry Carr. “We dedicated last weekend to that effort and got everyone in the athletic department to contribute their time and effort to selling the ‘donation’ tickets before the weekend and during the matches. By charging, they raised $1,273, surpassing their goal of $1,000 for the American Red Cross.

“The team worked hard in pre-selling tickets and advertising our donation event” said Carr.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams developed “Operation Shoebox.” Several teams collected items and put them in shoeboxes to send to the victims. “Operation Shoebox” was developed by women’s soccer coach Darren Ambrose.

“I got the idea from my wife who did something similar about 10 years ago for a disaster that took place in South America,” said Ambrose, who passed the idea along to men’s coach Rudy Fuller. “Clearly the people down in New Orleans are in a desperate situation and need help. I'm just glad that our Athletic Department and our soccer programs specifically, could help out,” Fuller said.

Soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream were donated from all over the University including dental supplies from the Penn Dental School. As more people donated goods, non-perishable food items and t-shirts from the Penn Relays were also given. More than 100 boxes were shipped to the victims.

The men’s soccer team was able to give shoeboxes directly to some evacuees when they were in South Carolina for a tournament. Some of the evacuees were staying in the same hotel as the team, and a breakfast was arranged at the hotel where each member of the team personally gave a shoebox to a victim.

Senior co-captain John Rhodes recalled, “there were several people there who were in real need of help, and they were very happy to see us, especially the children. It was a great experience just to be able to contribute to those in need.”

For the coaches and student-athletes this was a meaningful experience. Although this is a busy time for them it did not stop them from offering a hand.

"I think it was a great experience for our teams," Ambrose said. "Despite being in the middle of our season and getting caught up in our own problems, I think it served a great reminder of what is really important in life. And this happened here, in the U.S., not somewhere halfway around the earth."

Written by Matt Kirsch, athletic communications assistant.