While many students are getting acclimated to their new surroundings and shopping for new school supplies student-athletes at Principia College begin every year with a week of giving. This past week student-athletes from the Principia men's and women's cross country program, women's soccer program, and volleyball program spent their time giving back to their surrounding community.
This year the student-athletes spent their final week of summer visiting the Alton, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri communities; bringing the teams together for bonding while putting others first.
The women's soccer team helped transform Hampton Garden, a community garden in Alton. The Panthers spent the day clearing off the grounds free of weeds and shrubs. Over four hours at the garden the Panthers helped shape the area from a dense, over growth into a manicured community garden.
The garden cleanup was an excellent example of neighbors and community members working together. Garden neighbor Akeem Mosley and Greg Norris, founder and Director of ACES 4 Youth, worked alongside the team, and community businesses contributed donuts for the workers and flowers to plant in the newly cleared garden.
Principia College Women's Soccer Assistant Coach Nicole Gervais commented, "What a fantastic morning we had! It was so wonderful watching neighbors come together to give and love for the betterment of the community. It didn't matter that many were strangers initially. New friends were made from all walks of life with the common goal of making the world a little better—one garden at a time."
Principia's volleyball and cross-country teams collaborated on Tuesday to kick off their Week of Giving at Peace Haven Association, a Christian Science care facility in St. Louis, Missouri. They tackled several cleanup projects, including weeding and washing vans. But the main focus was interacting with residents, who loved engaging with the student-athletes—from playing ping-pong and noodle balloon ball to getting their nails painted to watching a skit the players had prepared. After dinner, everyone joined in a hymn sing.
"This was a special year for both the College teams and the residents and staff at Peace Haven," said Principia Assistant Volleyball Coach Heather Fairbanks (C'05). "It was so fun to see the College students spread out all over the facility, engaging in conversation and games with the residents. Smiles were everywhere, and it was tough to leave at the end of the night because everyone was having a great time getting to know each other!"
"While the women at the shelter expressed tremendous gratitude, it was the soccer team who felt the best," commented Assistant Coach Nicole Gervais. "Being able to talk to the women living at the shelter gave even more purpose to the team's task," she added. "And as the saying goes, many hands, light work!"