Willamette Football Players Contribute Efforts to United Way Days of Caring

Bearcats Work on Community Service Projects throughout Salem

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University football players worked throughout Salem on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 18, completing community service projects as part of the United Way Days of Caring. The Bearcats worked at a total of eight locations.

Willamette's football team has participated in the Days of Caring for nine consecutive years. In Salem, the Days of Caring are sponsored by the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley. The Bearcats also worked in conjunction with HandsOn.

The Bearcats were split into groups ranging from 10 to 40 athletes. Each group was assigned a project coordinator who led the group through its scheduled tasks. In addition, each group worked with a leader representing the civic, educational or health and human service organization that benefited from the Bearcats' efforts.

Willamette football players cleared brush and removed rocks and other impediments from a hiking trail at Fairmount Park. This intensive work was even more complicated by the vertical angle of the trail.

At the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden, the Bearcats trimmed back bushes and removed weeds that were engulfing flowers and smaller plants. The Bearcats also put down cardboard and covered it with bark chips on a path at the park, and distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood about upcoming Northgate events.

WU also helped out at the Sunnyside Organics garden. Players contributed to weeding, watering, harvesting and planting.

The Bearcats landscaped and spread bark dust and bark chips at the Tierra Rose Care Center. Members of the team also spread bark dust and bark chips at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center in addition to removing a wallpaper border in side the building.

Also included in Willamette's efforts on Saturday were clean-up projects at Miller Elementary School, Washington Elementary School and Waldo Middle School. At Miller, the team helped with landscaping and general clean-up. At Washington, the Bearcats focused on cleaning up and beautifying the outdoor garden/patio. The group of WU players working at Waldo removed brush and cleaned out weeds at the indoor atrium.

Leaders at each of the locations expressed their appreciation for the projects completed by the Bearcats.

"As a WU alum, I was very proud they volunteered at our nursing home/Alzheimer's facility," said Lori Baughman Lassen of Tierra Rose.

"We just can't thank you enough for everything you did to help us out here," Annalivia Palazzo-Angulo said at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden.

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 2012 season at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. CDT/4 p.m. PDT. Following an off week, the Bearcats will return to action with their home opener on Friday, Sept. 14 against East Texas Baptist University. Kickoff at McCulloch Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT).

Wes Wenzel (front) and Cuyler Hudson (back) remove a wallpaper border at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

Wes Wenzel (front) and Cuyler Hudson (back) remove a wallpaper border at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

Benny Weischedel takes on a wallpaper border at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

Benny Weischedel takes on a wallpaper border at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

Tyson Giza  dumps brush into a wheelbarrow at Waldo Middle School.

Tyson Giza dumps brush into a wheelbarrow at Waldo Middle School.

Jake Knecht helps clear brush from the atrium at Waldo Middle School.

Jake Knecht helps clear brush from the atrium at Waldo Middle School.

J.T. Wellls works to improve the pathway on a hiking trail at Fairmount Park.

J.T. Wellls works to improve the pathway on a hiking trail at Fairmount Park.

A group of WU players helped clean up the garden and patio at Washington Elementary School.

A group of WU players helped clean up the garden and patio at Washington Elementary School.

Willamette football players added bark chips at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

Willamette football players added bark chips at the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center.

The Bearcats cleared out excess foilage at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden.

The Bearcats cleared out excess foilage at the Northgate Peace and Forgiveness Garden.

WU football players beautified the garden and patio at Washington Elementary School.

WU football players beautified the garden and patio at Washington Elementary School.