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Flames' Student-Athletes Pay it Forward

January 14, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Beyond its successes on the athletic fields and in the classroom this past fall, Liberty Athletics also has recorded many noble achievements in the greater Lynchburg community. From August to December, there was rarely a moment when either some kind of a drive or event to support the community wasn't in progress.

Much of the credit for the department's community involvement goes to Associate Athletics Director for Acadmeics Kristie Beitz and her entire Academic Affairs for Athletics staff, as they to organized event after event. Morgaine Godwin, the Life Skills Coordinator for the department, serves as the coordinator for most of the events.

Throughout the fall semester, Godwin and the rest of her team helped organize 35 events. Additionally, Liberty student-athletes volunteered at several Lynchburg city elementary schools each week, serving as reading or lunch buddies.

Through the events, Liberty student-athletes raised over $7,000 to help support various initiatives in the local community. Student-athletes also helped collect over 700 articles of clothing and 3,828 non-perishable food items.

The campaigns stem from Beitz's continual belief in the concept of "pay it forward", which she describes as the fact that at some point, we all need support of others, and you have to begin by setting an example and helping others when you can.

This past semester kicked off with the 2nd annual "Dollar Makes a Difference" campaign, as fall student-athletes made their return to Liberty Mountain. Student-athletes from each of Liberty's 20 programs as well as members of the Athletics Department contributed $3,200 to help purchase school supplies for six different Lynchburg City schools. The amount raised topped the campaign's original goal of $3,000 and also surpassed its first year total of $2,700.

Throughout the entire fall semester, student-athletes collected unused toiletries from hotels and put together blessing bags for the Daily Bread of Lynchburg in conjunction with its "Scrub-a-Dub" campaign.

In October, student-athletes completed the "Trick or Treat so Others Can Eat" campaign. The drive collected a total of 3,828 canned and non-perishable goods. The number far exceeded last year's total of 500 items. The goods were distributed to several local ministries, including the Kingdom Power Worship Center, Daily Bread and Bedford Christian Ministries. The Lady Flames lacrosse team brought in 734 items, capturing the "Golden Pumpkin" award as the team with the most goods collected.

In addition to the fundraising campaigns, the Academic Affairs for Athletics department held numerous educational classes and awareness seminars for student-athletes. Classes on speed interviewing, resume building and how to develop a four-year plan were all conducted as a way to help prepare student-athletes for success upon graduation.

As the weather turned colder, student-athletes collected over 600 articles of clothing as part of the "Thanks-for-Giving" clothing drive. The articles of clothing, which included t-shirts, jackets, coats, shoes, gloves and hats, were donated to the Daily Bread.

On Dec. 5, prior to the start of final exams, the very popular Volleyball-a-Thon fundraiser was held for the third consecutive year. All proceeds from the event, which raised over $3,100 will be used to assist Lynchburg City school students who wish to attend summer camps.

Around the Christmas holiday, members of the Liberty Athletics department, coaches and student athletes served as "bell ringers" for the Salvation Army's "Red Kettle" campaign. Student-athletes were also able to help raise $700 as part of the "Rescue Elf" drive. The money raised was used to purchase Christmas presents for several local families in need.

"It was very exciting to see what our student-athletes were able to accomplish in only five months", commented Godwin. "Ultimately our goal is to help others and with the help of our student-athletes and the athletic department we were certainly able to do that."

"Not only do our student-athletes exceed on the playing field and in the classroom, but they also succeed in what they are doing for others," said Godwin. "As we look to the spring semester, the sky is the limit to what we will be able to do for the local community."