Jan. 4, 2016
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JORDAN BUCHER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Members of the University of Iowa track and field team embraced what it means to be a UI student-athlete by volunteering their time every Friday afternoon at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen. The Hawkeyes also hosted a Christmas giving event that benefitted two local families.
“As a student-athlete, I feel that it is important to give back to the community,” senior hurdler MonTayla Holder said. “People really look up to us, and to let them know we care and want to help is naturally the Hawkeye way.”
Throughout the fall, the Hawkeyes took turns every week at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen where they would assist in preparing and serving dinner to the visitors as well as cleaning the dishes, kitchen, and dining area.
To Holder, volunteering at the soup kitchen was more than just restocking the food pantry and making sack lunches for the staff to distribute.
“It’s about making the day of someone in need by not only serving food, but meeting people who might not get the chance to have a conversation with a University of Iowa student-athlete,” Holder said.
It was those conversations that kept the Indianapolis native coming back almost every week.
“When it was my turn to go, I absolutely loved it,” Holder said. “From then on, I volunteered to go every week. It brings me so much joy when the visitors of the soup kitchen see me with my gear on and want to know everything about the track and field team. I love telling them about our success and watching them light up with excitement because they have just met a Hawkeye.”
The Hawkeye way continued during the holiday season when members of the team bought, wrapped, and delivered presents to two local families.
“We had a track and field party where everyone gave five dollars to buy gifts and we each wrapped a present that night,” sophomore thrower Reno Tuufuli said. “The next day we went to go deliver the presents to those families. When we gave them the gifts, they were so grateful that one family member even started crying. It was an amazing experience.”
It was the faces of the families that said it all for sophomore thrower Kayla Hochhalter.
“My favorite part was seeing the look on the families’ faces as we gave them their gifts and wished them Merry Christmas,” sophomore thrower Kayla Hochhalter said. “It was rewarding to know that we helped make a difference in their lives this Christmas season.”
Holder, Tuufuli, Hochhalter, and the rest of the Hawkeyes open the 2016 indoor season Jan. 9 at the Border Battle in Champaign, Illinois.