Baseball, Softball Help United Way Pack 40,000 Meals

Sept. 16, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Members of the Kansas baseball and softball teams put their athletic skills to good use off the field Sunday afternoon, all in an effort to help the United Way of Douglas County pack and distribute 40,000 meals to those in need during the organization’s campaign kickoff.

Jayhawk teammates sealed bags with the precision of a pitcher painting the corner of the plate, tossed packets like they were turning double plays, and called out finished boxes like the number of outs in an inning during their afternoon shifts in the commons at Lawrence Free State High School. The two teams were part of an estimated 350 volunteers who helped serve more than 500 people through a mobile food pantry that stretched several blocks at its peak.

Kansas softball players Chaley Brickey, Nikki Bruce, Alex Hugo, Alex Jones, and Chanin Naudin were the first Jayhawks to arrive and were also among the most energetic and boisterous volunteers. The quintet helped its table pack nearly eight boxes, each containing 36 macaroni noodle dinners, during the hour-long shift and immediately volunteered for another shift.

“It all comes back to the giving back aspect,” Jones, Kansas Athletics’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Vice President, said. “You can come here and make it a chore, but we came here and (understood) people are going to benefit from what we’re doing today. I feel like with enthusiasm comes increased productivity and we were thanking Henry Ford for the assembly line idea. We had a good time and definitely made it a fun task rather than a chore.”

Nearly 40 KU student-athletes, including the entire baseball team, and a handful of Kansas Athletics staff members took part in the event. It’s estimated by the United Way that one in six people in Douglas County are hungry and don’t know where their next meal will come from or how they will pay for it.

Sunday’s meals were distributed through Just Foods, a United Way partner that works with 40 pantries in the community. The effort is part of the United Way’s goal to connect community needs to community resources, but it also provided a good bonding experience for the Kansas players.

“It’s one of those things where we do so much together on the field, that it’s nice to get out and do something different that’s not so much helping ourselves but helping others,” Taylor Rappaport, a sophomore baseball player and SAAC executive board member, said. “It feels good, it’s nice.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.