Dec. 9, 2011
In the midst of finishing final exams for the Fall semester, Auburn student-athletes took a break from studying to deliver presents to area children from over a dozen families through Project Uplift, an Auburn University community initiative.
For years, Athletics Department staff and sports teams have donated items to Toys for Tots during the annual holiday luncheon, which were then picked up and delivered by the Fire Department. But in an effort to see the direct impact of their giving, the student-athletes decided to play Santa themselves.
More than 25 kids opened their doors to be greeted on Tuesday and Wednesday by members of AU sports teams with gifts in hand. The baseball team adopted children from two different families and presented their gifts Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, 20 student-athletes delivered to an additional 10 families.
"It wasn't enough for us to just buy a present and drop it off," said Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president Morgan Murphy. "This is a chance for our student-athletes to say `I care about you during this holiday season' and the gift is just the avenue to do it. Everyone who went had a blast interacting with those kids. It was exactly what I hoped it would be."
Murphy hoped Auburn student-athletes would feel the impact that she was on the receiving end of two years ago.
Murphy, a senior on the softball team, is no stranger to feeling the effects of loss at Christmas. In December of 2009, the Murphy home in Germantown, Tenn., suffered a devastating fire. Everything was destroyed, but from the ashes came an overwhelming show of love from the community and friends.
"They smothered us with love," Murphy said. "It was so powerful. Food, clothes, Christmas presents, they made sure we knew God's love."
In one group, members of the golf and track teams visited two families of three children each. The student-athletes spent time with the kids doing homework before being allowed to open one present each. The children, a toddler, kindergartener and middle schooler, were thrilled to find a bubble machine, teddy bear and Auburn Tiger Pillow Pet under their tree.
Auburn's 21 sports donated more than 350 gifts to the local Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Project Uplift programs. Families benefited were from the Auburn-Opelika-Waverly areas.
Project Uplift: Project Uplift is an agency whose main goal is to help children develop constructive, happy lives so that the delinquency rate in our county will decrease. For more information about the organization, log on to http://www.auburn.edu/student_info/project_uplift/index.html.