Sports Feature Story From the IWU Argus
While many college students use Halloween as a reason to dress up and celebrate, Illinois Wesleyan athletes see the holiday as a time to give back to the community.
Each year Illinois Wesleyan’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) organizes a community service project known as trick-or-treat for canned goods, according to SAAC advisor Kristen Duncan. The SAAC assigns each athletic team a neighborhood in Bloomington-Normal, and the athletes visit their designated houses to ask for canned good donations, Duncan said.
The SAAC gives the donations to Clare House, a food pantry in Bloomington that serves residents in need. Director of Clare House Tina Sipula explained that the food pantry is always looking for help and relies on large donations like this to keep its doors open. “We have grown to count on this event every year. The canned goods help make up the 150 bags of food we give away each week,” Sipula added.
According to Erin Sweeny, Co-President of SAAC, each team member is required to reach a goal of 10 cans and SAAC representatives are accountable for the players to fulfill their duty. The athletes collected nearly 4,000 cans in previous years, and with many new athletes this year, the department goal is 5,300. Sweeny explained that after Halloween, the athletes bring donations to the Shirk Center and put them into empty garbage cans because there are so many.
Sweeny added, “Every year the Clare House is extremely grateful for our donation. Clare House has struggled in the past few years to keep their food pantry full. With the weather already getting cold, our donation is crucial.”
Duncan explained that as the SAAC is in its 10th year of the event, many local residents have grown accustomed to IWU student-athletes visiting their homes on Halloween. She said, “Some even go so far as to prepare a bag of canned goods ahead of time.”
Wesleyan football player Jeffrey Jerome explained that most people are more than willing to donate, and those who can’t are always polite.
“Seeing complete strangers be so generous not only by donating, but also by giving you a moment of their time is amazing,” Jerome said.According to Sweeny, the SAAC has a new goal for each athlete this year—reach 20 hours of community service. She said, “Not only does this event go towards those hours, it allows for team and athlete community bonding. Trick or Treat for canned goods helps us realize we are making a difference in the community that surrounds us.”