Liberty Flames student-athletes participated in the Third Annual Hop on Pop Reading Day at Yellow Branch Elementary School in Rustburg in March.
Over the past two months, Liberty Flames student-athletes have paid it forward in the community on a regular basis.
Below is a description of recent events from March and April in which the student-athletes have invested their time in.
Hop on Pop Reading Day On March 1, Liberty student-athletes participated in the Third Annual Hop on Pop Reading Day at Yellow Branch Elementary School in Rustburg.
Over 70 student-athletes from the football, field hockey, women's lacrosse, men's soccer, volleyball and cheerleading teams participated in the event, donning costumes and Dr. Seuss hats and headgear for the afternoon.
The student-athletes spent time reading in classrooms to Yellow Branch students. All Liberty Athletics teams chipped in as well, collecting over 3,000 books to donate to the school, a new record.
The event began in spring 2017 in memory of William "Bill" Beitz, the father of Liberty Senior Associate Athletics Director – Academic Affairs Kristie Beitz. Now in its third year, Hop on Pop Reading Day has grown each year. In 2017, more than 60 student-athletes read to the children of Yellow Branch and collected 420 books to donate to the school. In 2018, over 75 student-athletes came to the school to read, and Flames student-athletes collected approximately 2,600 books.
Bill Beitz passed away in Nov. 2016. Liberty Women's Lacrosse Head Coach Kelly Nangle and assistant coach Nina Dunay attended the funeral and decided to begin a book collection in Beitz's honor, which turned into collection efforts by all Liberty athletics teams. Behind the scenes, Liberty Assistant Director for Academic Affairs Courtney Huffman and the rest of the Academic Affairs for Athletics staff began planning a day to have Liberty student-athletes deliver the books and read to Yellow Branch's students in Beitz's memories.
"It shows their love for giving back and determination to make an impact in the community. Every classroom at Yellow Branch had two to three student-athletes reading to children at the same time," said Liberty Associate Director for Academic Affairs Courtney Huffman. "This shows that not only were our student-athletes dedicated to donating children's books, but they also wanted to personally deliver, read to the children and make a positive impact in the community."
Donuts With Dads On April 2 and 3, Liberty Athletics participated in Donuts With Dads at Linkhorne Elementary School. On the first day, the Flames football team, along with Liberty Football Head Coach Hugh Freeze, took part in the event. The student-athletes and Coach Freeze enjoyed donuts and coloring activities while spending the morning with the kids and using their platform to show kids without a father figure what a strong male role model can be.
On the second day, the Liberty football and men's soccer teams took part in the event at Linkhorne Elementary.
Serve Lynchburg Serve Lynchburg is an annual, city-wide event in which Liberty University students, faculty, staff and Lynchburg residents join together with community partners in order to satisfy local community needs. This year's Serve Lynchburg event fell on April 13, and the men's soccer, football, field hockey, volleyball, swimming & diving and women's basketball teams all participated.
Other Events in March On March 2, Liberty student-athletes participated in Rise Against Hunger Meal Packaging. The Lady Flames volleyball and track & field squads packed premade meals into boxes to send to those in need and to the local homeless.
The Flames football and softball teams took part in Flames READ, March 19 at Leesville Road Elementary School. The football team, along with the women's basketball squad, donated their time with Food For Families on March 23 at Park View Community Mission. The student-athletes served food to families and stocked the food pantry.
Other Events in April On April 4, student-athletes from the Lady Flames lacrosse team participated in STREAM Night at R.S. Payne Elementary School. The night featured educational activities with kids and families. Members of the women's basketball, football and volleyball squads partook in another Flames READ event at Linkhorne Elementary School.
On April 19, Liberty student-athletes from the baseball, football, women's lacrosse, women's soccer and volleyball teams delivered Easter baskets to Runk & Pratt Senior Living Communities residents. Finally, the Flames football team and Lady Flames volleyball squad participated in R.S. Payne Elementary's Field Day, April 26.
#FlamesGiveBack In addition to the above events , Liberty University student-athletes have embraced the concept of "pay it forward" by demonstrating love, caring for and serving the local community throughout the academic year. Using the NCAA athletic platform, Flames and Lady Flames student-athletes impact the lives of individuals of all ages in both public and private sectors.
Liberty student-athletes continue to serve the Lynchburg community and surrounding area under the initiative of #PayItForward and #FlamesGiveBack on social media during the 2018-19 school year. During the 2017-18 academic year, Liberty's 545 Division I student-athletes provided over 14,250 hours of service through 125 community service events.
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