Student-athletes from all of Illinois' 19 sports, knows the importance of giving back to the community. Through a program called "Hometown Heroes", the Illini student-athletes have the opportunity to participate in many different community service activities. The program is organized through Academic Services and works with a number of groups in the Champaign-Urbana area. The following is a list of all the regular events at which you will find Illinois student-athletes:
Angel Tree Project
Each Illini athletic team purchases gift cards during the holidays for kids on the waiting list of our Big Brother Big Sister organization.
The Adopt-A-School program is a joint partnership with Champaign and Urbana Elementary and Middle Schools through their One-to-One Mentoring Program. Individual student-athletes or entire teams make regular visits to their assigned adopted school to read, play and interact with students.
After School Programs
Visits to after school programs at both Champaign and Urbana Elementary Schools are scheduled throughout the year.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Each year, Illini student-athletes, led by the women's tennis team, host a holiday party and provide presents for kids in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The kids play games and make crafts with student-athletes and receive their presents from Santa.
Student-athletes have been involved with local boy scouts in various ways ranging from speaking at meetings and Blue Gold Banquets, to hosting troops on campus visits and judging cake decorating contests.
Student-athletes organize an afternoon of activities for children with cancer or other blood disorders at this week-long camp in Bloomington during the summer.
Challenger Baseball League
Young people with various disabilities from the Challenger Baseball League attend various athletic events and have the opportunity to meet Fighting Illini student-athletes.
Each year, Illini student-athletes volunteer their time at the Crisis Nursery Holiday Shop assisting young shoppers in purchasing presents. Football players also visited the Crisis Nursery facility to interact with the youngsters onsite.
Cunningham Children's Home
In 2006, the football team began hosting a charitable event to benefit the Cunningham Children's Home, which is located in Urbana. The home houses many children awaiting or returning from foster care. In three years, the Supply Drive at Memorial Stadium raised $25,000 in money and goods from the community.
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program
Every year, student-athletes speak at graduation ceremonies in an effort to encourage youth to stay away from drugs and violence.
DCFS (Division of Children and Family Services)
Fighting Illini student-athletes are given the opportunity to attend a holiday party to brighten up the holidays for kids who have been placed in foster homes within the C-U area.
Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club
Students-athletes visit the local Boys and Girls Club to play games and talk with local kids who take part in their activities.
Eastern Illinois Food for Families Drive
Student-athletes from various athletic teams man collection stations around Memorial Stadium on a football game day accepting canned good donations from Illini fans on their way into the stadium for the game.
Fighting Illini female student-athletes have participated in the U Rock Conference.
Illini student-athletes make regular trips to Carle Foundation Hospital to visit with kids in the Pediatric Oncology Center as well as on the pediatric floor.
Illini Leadership Academy Summit
Student-athletes in the Illini Leadership Academy organized a free leadership summit for local 7th and 8th grade students to share some of their knowledge on how to be effective leaders.
Kids in the Kitchen
Illini student-athletes assisted the Champaign-Urbana Junior League with this event which is held to empower local youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
National Walk to School Event
Illini student-athletes team up with students, parents and staff at various Champaign and Urbana elementary schools to promote the importance of increasing physical activity among our youth while creating safer routes for children to walk and bike.
Nursing Home Visits
Illini student-athletes are given opportunities each semester to visit senior citizens in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. During these trips, student-athletes may play bingo, do crafts, play games or just visit with the residents.
Playing it Safe
Illini student-athletes volunteer at this annual community fair to encourage kids to try fun, new activities and be safe while doing them.
pre, elementary and middle school visits
Student-athletes make regular visits to schools in the Champaign-Urbana area to address a variety of topics such as the importance of staying in school, making good grades, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and treating others with respect. Visits are made to individual classrooms, school groups, or all-school assemblies.
This outreach program puts our student-athletes in a position where they can promote the importance of literacy to young people. Student-athletes work with elementary school students one-on-one or in small groups, reading books or playing word games in an effort to help children improve their reading skills and vocabulary. They have also participated in Family Reading nights at local elementary schools and the annual Read Across America event held in our community.
Relay for Life
Several teams and individual student-athletes raise money for the American Cancer Society by taking part in its annual Relay for Life.
Salvation Army Thrift Store
Teams volunteer their time sorting through clothing donations and assisting the staff in organizing donations to be available in the thrift store.
Fighting Illini student-athletes partner each year with the non-profit organization, Special Spectators, to bring children undergoing treatment in the Carle Hospital Oncology Center to a U of I football game. During the week leading up to the game, football players visit the children at the hospital. On game day, student-athletes from other sports visit with the kids at a tailgate party held in their honor.
Stay in Bounds (Character Education Program)
Illini student-athletes visit local schools to promote and teach citizenship through sports while encouraging students of the importance of good character and ethical conduct.
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Canned Food Drive
During the 2009 spring sports festival, SAAC accepted canned goods from fans supporting that weekend's spring football game, men's tennis match and softball games. All the donated items were given to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank.
SAAC Campus Clean Up
Every April, SAAC assigns each intercollegiate athletic team an area of campus to beautify. SAAC reps organize their teams in helping to do their part to spruce up our campus.
SAAC Clothing Drive
Each November, SAAC organizes a clothing drive and donates all clothing collected to a local shelter.
Warm-A-Kid Foundation Clothing Drive
Student-athletes collect donations of hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and coats from Illini fans attending a women's basketball game with all clothing going to the Warm-A-Kid Foundation.
Will-TV Ready to Learn Program
Student-athletes participate with other volunteers from the community in a monthly book mentor program visiting local Head Start classrooms to read a book and do a related activity with the children. Each child in the program receives a copy of the book to take home, so by the end of the school year, they have a home library of at least nine books.
Illini student-athletes have taken part in Free Friday Nights and the YMCA's Easter Egg Hunt and egg decorating party.