Feb. 22, 2013
By Sara Roberts
AUBURN - For some college athletes, the sports they play are a way to pay for school. For others, college athletics is the stepping stone to a career at the professional level, but for Auburn senior Blanche Alverson, her motivation to play stems from something much bigger than herself.
Last season, Alverson, a senior biomedical sciences major at Auburn, was inspired to give back to the community that has supported her team for so many years. Although the Auburn women's basketball team frequently visits and reads to children at local schools Alverson wanted to do something greater.
"My mom is a special needs preschool principal," Alverson said. "She always says that you can never have too many books. One thing these schools always need is new books for their kids to read, so I think that kind of sparked my interest."
Through her mother, Alverson realized donating books to the community would be a great way to give back, and playing basketball was going to help her do it.
"After talking with my parents they encouraged me to do something bigger," Alverson said. "So I started the Ballin' for Books campaign, where we collect books and give them to the community. When we had the book drive last season before two of our home games we collected over 1,000 books, so we are looking forward to doing it again."
The success of Ballin' for Books had inspired Alverson to continue the campaign into this season while hoping to spread the word even further. Last fall Alverson was named 2012 Auburn Miss Homecoming, which allowed her to broadcast the Ballin' for Books campaign to the entire student body.
"The success we had last year was awesome," Alverson said. "And I think with even more awareness on campus we'll have an even greater turnout this year. Through the Miss Homecoming campaign I was able to see that people really do care and they do want to reach out, so now that they know about Ballin' for Books hopefully the response we get is even greater and we'll be able to impact even more communities through our donations."
During her time campaigning for the title Alverson spent countless hours the week before the Homecoming game meeting many of Auburn's students to tell them about Ballin' for Books and how they could help.
"I think being named Miss Homecoming was a great way to bring awareness to the project and more awareness to what we are trying to do," Alverson said. "This year when we do the drive again I think more people will remember Homecoming week and the project. People still see me and say `Oh you're Ballin' for Blanche who's Ballin' for Books', so I think people will know about it more because I was able to spread awareness through the campaign. Regardless if I won the title or not I think the Ballin' for Books campaign was highlighted through my Miss Homecoming campaign."
This year the books received will be donated to two organizations Alverson has experience working with; the Pine Hills Literacy Project and the Hudson Family Foundation.
"The Pine Hills Literacy Project is located at the Boys and Girls club," Alverson said. "It's a project that they started to encourage literacy in our community. They have readers all the time who bring book and the kids really enjoy that. They were really excited last year when we donated the books and I know they're looking forward to it again this year. The Hudson Family Foundation is involved in so much and so many great causes that I'm just really in support of what they do and I'm looking forward to being able to help out everything they've accomplished."
There will be three opportunities to donate books to the Ballin' for Books project, starting with this Sunday's game against Missouri at 2 p.m. CT, at Auburn Arena. Book donation bins will be set up at all three entrances to Auburn Arena.
Bins will also be set out prior to the Auburn men's game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, March 2, and the women's regular-season finale against Mississippi State on Sunday, March 3.