May 6, 2011
As a another academic school year is coming to a close, University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics calculated its community service outreach efforts over the past year. Through Minnesota’s Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community (M.A.G.I.C.) program, the student-athletes can volunteer for a variety of events. There are no hours required by their respective athletic teams, which makes the numbers even more impressive. Such events included were food and toy drives, hospital visits, clinics, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club, helping the homeless, and visits to elementary schools to promote reading and healthy lifestyles. That’s just a small sample.
Ranging from April 2010 to April 2011, M.A.G.I.C. organized 227 outreach events in which 595 of the 750 U of M student-athlete population volunteered. The rest of the numbers speak for themselves:
Number of people served at these events: 17,592
Total Number of volunteer hours at M.A.G.I.C. events: 4,527
Additional volunteer hours submitted by student-athletes for volunteering on their own: 5,502
Those numbers were an improvement from last year’s totals. In 2009-10, student-athletes volunteered for 8,668 hours in 188 organized events. Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Welfare Anissa Lightner continues to see how much the Gopher community outreach efforts have grown to what it is today. Providing transportation to many events, Lightner sees what an impact the Gopher student-athletes have at the events.
“Our student-athletes never fail to impress me with their dedication to community outreach,” Lightner said. “I’m truly surprised to see so many student-athletes volunteer on Friday morning when they have competition that night. That is dedication. When some have a day or morning off and could sleep in or catch up, they made the decision to get up early and come out with us to make a positive impact on our community.”
Director of Athletics Joel Maturi also recognizes Minnesota’s efforts. “The community outreach work our student-athletes do is truly remarkable,” Maturi said. "They understand that their community outreach goes beyond the playing field. As collegiate athletes, they have a great opportunity to positively impact individuals in not only the Twins Cities, but also across Minnesota.”
Some of the Gopher athletes feel the same as Lightner and Maturi. Anne Schleper from women's has logged over 90 hours of community service this year. Her reasons? "I find a lot of joy in giving to those less fortunate," Schleper said. "I'm given a very limited, but blessed time here at the U to make a difference, so why not take advantage of it and do all I can?"
Football's Moses Alipate is another major contributor to M.A.G.I.C. states the following: "It's the feeling you get at the end of the day when everything’s done, the kind of sense of accomplishment you get from helping other people. The reason I do it is because my family has always told us that it’s better to give than to receive."
As the athletic competition winds down, M.A.G.I.C. continues on through the summer. The activities continue to roll on as the student athletes will start another year with HopeKids events, elementary school visits and nursing home visits.