SAAC In ACCtion: University of Maryland, Change Near And Far

Feb. 2, 2011

Each year, the University of Maryland's Student Athlete Advisory Committee plans and participates in a variety of community service functions. In the past, these have ranged from fund raising for local charities, to volunteering with local elementary schools.

One tradition that we've kept at Maryland, is our constant participation with the TERP Reading Program. This program sends our athletes to local schools, to read to elementary school students for a class period. These interactions span the entire school year, and aids in inspiring the students to achieve a higher education.

So far in the fall of 2010, Maryland student athletes have participated in a myriad of community service events. These events are highlighted by a canned food drive and The Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. The Maryland SAAC started a change drive for hospitals in Haiti, which will be continued through the spring semester.

During "Maryland Madness", the celebratory kickoff to our men's and women's basketball seasons, fans and students gather in support of these teams and other organizations. Continuing a long tradition, SAAC oversaw a canned food drive for the D.C. Food Bank, during which each team greeted fans and collected cans at the door.

Members of the men's lacrosse team have been actively involved with an important community service project: Big Brothers Big Sisters. Once a week twenty one members of the men's lacrosse team have been volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program at local Hyattsville Elementary Schools. The Big Brother Big Sister Program is one that makes meaningful matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs") and children ("Littles") across the country. Through this program children cultivate positive relationships that have a direct and lifelong effect on the lives of young people.

Currently, our SAAC is working on collecting the most change possible for hospitals in Haiti. The effort is titled "Change for Change", under the concept of collecting change to help change the lives and brighten the futures of children in Haiti. The collection of the change drive has been completed in a competitive manner, team versus team, with each team striving to raise the most change.

The proceeds will benefit a nonprofit medical group that travels to Haiti to operate on children with hydrocephalus. The condition is also known as "water on the brain," a medical condition in which there is an abnormal collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. This may cause increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head, directly effecting any development of these children.

More specifically, the funding directly impacts supplies for the operations and the education of Haitian doctors about this medical condition. The effort also has a personal interest to the Maryland student athlete body, specifically one of our water polo players whose father helps lead the program, making frequent trips from New York to Haiti, to train doctors and perform these life altering surgeries.

Maryland lacrosse player working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program