Illini Participate in Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon
July 19, 2012
By Annie Luhrsen, Illinois volleyball senior setter
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - More than 30 current and former student-athletes, coaches and staff from the University of Illinois helped paint Chicago's Benjamin Banneker Elementary School on June 9. The Illini contingent was part of a larger group of 50 from the athletic departments at Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Lehigh and Central Michigan who came together as part of the Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon, representing Student Athletes Leading Social Change (SALSC).
The Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon is in its 19th year of operation. More than 6,000 volunteers from across the city came out to help improve 24 elementary schools across the Chicago. After a morning rally at Daley Plaza, the groups were bused to their assigned schools. Members of SALSC spent the day painting classrooms, hallways, playgrounds and murals at the Benjamin Banneker School in the Englewood neighborhood. Members of the community, including students from the elementary school, also pitched in.
"I thought that was really nice to actually talk to some of the kids that go to the school." Illini junior swimmer Alyssa Toland said. "While I was painting one of the classrooms, these two boys came in and were talking to us about how this was their classroom and how their teacher was really mean. Right when they said that, the teacher walked in! It was awesome to interact with them and learn their personalities."
The event was a great way for like-minded student athletes from all over the country to come together and learn through service.
After a day of painting the groups were all bused back to Daley Plaza for a reception with food and a live band. Senior diver Darragh McDermott was appreciative for how smoothly the Chicago Cares volunteer staff ran the event.
"It was our (SALSC's) first year attending this event," McDermott said. "We didn't know exactly what to expect. I don't think it could have gone better. The Chicago Cares staff was prepared and treated the volunteers very well. I can't wait to go back next year!"
SALSC has been an active group on the University of Illinois campus since it's founding in 2009. The members of SALSC have been actively involved in service activities locally, nationally and internationally. Locally, this year's work was with the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. SALSC members have helped bag food and make sandwiches for sack lunches passed out to those in need around Champaign-Urbana. Student-athletes also participated in the distribution of those lunches during the past school year.
Internationally, SALSC sent a group of seven student athletes to Kenya earlier this month to help build a school with funding raised by the participating schools. Former tennis player Chelcie Abajian represented Illinois on this trip, working alongside student athletes from Michigan, Lehigh and North Carolina on building a school.
The Serve-A-Thon was SALSC's national focus for the year. It was the first year SALSC has had a national project, and the group plans to continue to take part in Serve-a-thon for years to come.
For more information about the Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon visit: http://www.chicagocares.org/CCI_about_SAT
For more information about Student Athletes Leading Social Change visit: www.salsc.org