Football Players Complete Projects for United Way Days of Caring

Bearcats Help Throughout the Community

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. --The Willamette University football team took a break from practice on Saturday morning (Aug. 20) and helped with a variety of gardening, clean-up, trail building and promotional efforts throughout the area as part of the United Way Days of Caring. The Bearcats worked at eight locations, with seven in Salem and one at Zena Forest in nearby Polk County.

Willamette's football team has participated in the Days of Caring for eight consecutive years. In Salem, the Days of Caring are sponsored by the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley.

The Bearcats were split into groups ranging from 10 to 30 athletes and/or coaches. Each group was assigned a project coordinator who kept everyone focused on the assigned tasks. In addition, each group worked with an overall leader representing the civic, educational or health and human service organization utilizing the Bearcats' combined numbers and strength.

At both Zena Forest and Wallace Marine Park, the Bearcats built trails to make it easier for individuals and groups to reach various locations. Willamette football players contributed a variety of gardening work at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden in Northgate Park.

The Bearcats cleared a wooded area at Clare Bridge of Salem (Alzheimer's and dementia care live-in facility). Efforts at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service Office centered on spreading bark chips throughout the low-maintenance yard and around playground equipment.

At three area schools -- Waldo Middle School, Hoover Elementary School and Swegle Elementary School -- the Bearcats helped clean up the landscape and grounds. All three groups combined their efforts at Waldo, allowing the volunteers to trim trees and bushes, and remove significant amounts of brush and weeds, from a large atrium.

In the Bush Park area of Salem, the Bearcats distributed fliers about opportunities for members of the community to volunteer as mentors with the Mid-Valley Mentors.

Each year, the United Way Days of Caring benefits from more than 1,000 volunteers who clean up and improve buildings and landscapes at public locations and service organizations in Salem and the surrounding area. Originally scheduled for a specific week or two weeks during the year, the Days of Caring are now scheduled throughout the calendar to better meet local needs. The Bearcats worked on Saturday during a break in the team's practice schedule.

Willamette opens the 2011 season by hosting the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Saturday, Sept. 3 at McCulloch Stadium in Bush's Pasture Park. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT). UW-Stevens Points is ranked #23 in the D3football.com Top 25 Preseason Poll. Willamette is not ranked, but received points in the poll.

The game with UWSP will start an exciting home schedule for the Bearcats, who will play seven of their 10 regular season games at home. In addition to the Pointers, WU's home slate includes Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) on Sept. 10, Southern Oregon University on Sept. 17, Linfield College on Oct. 1, Pacific University on Oct. 8, Whitworth University on Oct. 29 and Pacific Lutheran University on Nov. 12.
Willamette football place-kicker Kyle Derby uses a wheelbarrow to remove cuttings from Waldo Middle School.

Willamette football place-kicker Kyle Derby uses a wheelbarrow to remove cuttings from Waldo Middle School.

WU safety Dominic David moves soil at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden.

WU safety Dominic David moves soil at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden.

Bearcat tight end Doug Gilmore cuts off a branch at Waldo Middle School.

Bearcat tight end Doug Gilmore cuts off a branch at Waldo Middle School.