Hawkeyes Give Back to the Community

April 20, 2008

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Eighteen hours after the final tackle at the Coca-Cola Iowa Football Spring Game, 30 Hawkeye sophomore student-athletes and eight coaches arrived at the Crisis Center (1121 Gilbert Court) to sort the food that was collected as admission to the scrimmage.

The annual food drive at the spring game and the work the morning after is the Iowa football team’s contribution to the UI Athletics Department’s annual Day of Caring, an activity that sends representatives of all 24 of the UI sports teams into the greater Iowa City/Coralville Community. The UI’s Day of Caring is coordinated by Iowa’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (ISAAC) with assistance from the UI Athletics Student Services Office.

Sunday, April 27, is the date of the UI’s 2008 Day of Caring.

Four rental trucks were filled with large yellow containers consisting of canned fruits, vegetables and various other non-perishable items. A steady drizzle on Saturday kept many spectators away from the Spring Game and caused a slight decrease in the amount of food collected this year as opposed to 2007.

“This is one of our top 10 drives,” said Dayna Vallantyne, food bank director at the Crisis Center. “This means a tremendous amount. Unfortunately we only have enough money in our budget to purchase about 20 percent of the food that we need to provide groceries for families in Johnson County throughout the year. Without donations, we wouldn’t be able to provide food on a weekly basis.”

Jayme Murphy from Dubuque, Iowa, is battling for the starting running back position for the Hawkeyes. On Sunday he was giving back to the community by sifting through cans and boxes for the better part of two hours.

“It’s great knowing we’re helping the community,” Murphy said. “People need food and everyone understands that the Hawkeyes will help out. This is what it’s all about. We have six more community projects coming up.”

One of Murphy’s most impressive discoveries was a package of Girl Scout cookies, which tugged at his conscience.

“I don’t know if I what to put them in or eat them,” Murphy joked.

Lance Tillison is a strong safety from Seffner, Fla. He said he appreciates the fan support the Hawkeyes receive every game and this is the least he can do to return the favor.

“We do this for the fans and we do this for the people,” Tillison said. “Feeding the needy is a positive thing to do for the community. This is what we’re all about. This is what real Hawkeyes do.”

More than 15,000 fans attended the Coca-Cola Iowa Football Spring Football Game on Saturday and the vast majority chipped in by donating a food item before entering Kinnick Stadium. Make no mistake, the process of having the players and coaches sort the goods on a Sunday morning is far from punishment. The players seemed to revel in the opportunity — and absolutely no one tried to duck the service project. That goes for head coach Kirk Ferentz, who spent the majority of his morning organizing cans on a paper pallet.

“For an event drive, the University of Iowa football game does an incredible job of bringing in food for us,” Vallantyne said.

The food that was collected and sorted will be distributed beginning Monday, April 21. Vallantyne said approximately 972 bags of food are distributed each week to families in Johnson County. More than 4,000 families annually benefit from the work of the Crisis Center.

Iowa opens the season with three straight home games, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 30, against Maine. That will be followed by games against Florida International (Sept. 6) and Iowa State (Sept. 13).

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