April 26, 2013
AUBURN - More than 100 Auburn University Athletics Department Staff abandoned their daily tasks to head out into the Auburn-Opelika community to lend a hand in many different service projects as part of the Fifth Annual Tigers Give Back Day.
The morning began as groups were dispatched to 13 different locations. Auburn head men's basketball coach Tony Barbee kicked off Dean Road Elementary School's day by reading with students.
"It's always fun to reach out to kids, especially at (my son) Drew's school," Barbee said. "It's always fun to inspire kids to read."
At the same time, members of the sports medicine staff and senior administrators formed a Tiger Walk for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds as they arrived for school at the Boykin Community Center's Head Start program. There, they played with kids during their morning routine at both Head Start and Joyland Day Care, and assisted with some much-needed office organization. At the Auburn Day Care inside the Boykin Center, the compliance staff applied their skills by cleaning out books, moving furniture and helping with correspondence.
"That's a bingo," could be heard from head football coach Gus Malzahn at the Azalea Place Assisted Living facility as he led a group in some highly competitive games of bingo.
"It was great today. We ran the hurry-up, no-huddle bingo today. They had to keep up," Malzahn joked. "But anytime we can get out in the community and give back, it's a good time."
Sybil Haughery, marketing coordinator for the senior communities of the East Alabama Medical Center agreed. "It's always great when any Auburn coaches or student-athletes come out to the home," Haughery said. "Our residents are quite competitive, and haven't lost their competitive edge. They were keeping up with him."
Many of the Athletics staff got their hands dirty with manual labor. Head women's gymnastics coach Jeff Graba had his staff washing down baseboards and doing other handyman duties at Bethany House, while marketing and event management staff members painted the rec room at the Boykin Center Elderly-Adult Day Care Center.
"I think it's rewarding for us and our whole staff, and everyone in the department to give a little bit back to a community that supports us," Graba said. "It's rewarding, but it's also fun."
The facilities staff and senior administrators led a group to give a fresh coat of paint to the wrought-iron fencing at Pine Hill Cemetery. Just down the street, plant care and garden maintenance was on the books for the women's golf staff and the ticket office.
"(Auburn) is where we live and we want to do what we can to make it better," said head women's golf coach Kim Evans. "This goes along with the theme in the Athletics Department, and what Jay (Jacobs) emphasizes to us. Treat others the way you want to be treated."
Auburn's national championship equestrian staff cleared the bike trails at Chewacla State Park, a project they enjoyed working on during last year's community service day. The business office, Tigers Unlimited staff and academics worked on cleaning pollen from the facilities at both the Camellia Place and Oak Park Retirement Homes.