By UO student Chelsea Fullmer
O Heroes, the athletic department’s community outreach program for student-athletes, is gearing up for the program’s annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive this November. The athletic department raises money so that each of the athletic teams can put together at least one basket, worth roughly $50, to deliver to families in need. Each basket contains the entire fixings for a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey, a turkey pan, a box of stuffing, potatoes, pies, and so much more.
Last year, the athletic department was able to raise enough money for a total of 61 baskets to deliver to families in the Eugene and Springfield communities. Some teams even raised enough money to put together six baskets. After the baskets are put together, they are personally delivered by members of the teams.
Oregon’s women soccer player Kendall Brooke recalls last year’s delivery process as her favorite part of the basket drive.
“It was incredible to see just how appreciative the man was and to see his children’s faces light up when they took out the turkey and pumpkin pie and started to pass all of the food around,” Brooke said.
Last year, O Heroes exceeded their goal by getting at least one basket from every team. Even staff members of the athletic department put together baskets to raise the total to 61. This year, the program hopes to raise enough money to make 75 baskets.
“All of us within the athletic department at the University of Oregon are so fortunate to have the opportunities that we have,” Brooke said about having the opportunity to help the community during the holiday season. “Luckily for a lot of us, we may never have to worry about when or where our next meal will come from. However, the sad reality is that many people within our community do not have this luxury.”
While the athletic department is busy getting as many baskets together before Thanksgiving, they are also continuing to give back to the community in other ways. Many male student-athletes are currently participating in “Movember” to promote awareness of prostate and testicular cancer in men. Student-athletes also get together to make numerous trips to River Bend Hospital in Springfield to visit children during the holiday time, and remain active with the Boys and Girls Club of Emerald Valley.
“The holiday season is such a special time, and doing events such as these are such a great way to be able to reach out to those in need,” Brooke said.