Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Reaches Community During Holiday Season

Dec. 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - Sometimes the simplest thing can go a long way. That's what Georgetown University senior men's tennis player Rafael Notario (Bethesda, Md./The Heights School) thought at least.

In his role as president of the Georgetown Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Notario wanted to come up with a way to engage his fellow student-athletes, bring them together and to do something good for the community. The result was something simple - making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and distributing them to the D.C. Soup Kitchen for the homeless in early November, the $1 Hoyas Against Hunger Campaign.

"I thought up this idea over the summer," Notario said. "I was thinking about how to get SAAC to test its fundraising potential as well as how to get student-athletes to participate on a low time-commitment basis. I've always thought that we need to activate the student-athletes to participate in the most basic tasks throughout the Athletic Department in order to get them excited about giving back.

"For that reason and, also linked with the Georgetown ideal of social justice and men and women for others, I created this event as one of the initiatives for SAAC. I wanted to get this planned earlier in the year so that we could do it in the parking lot, but it worked out great indoors."

That was one of several events that Notario and Georgetown's SAAC group participated in during the fall.

Senior field hockey player Ai Nishino (Rye, N.Y./Rye) and rower Matt Mullman (Westfield, N.J./St Peter's Prep) helped to organize a Thanksgiving food drive, in which 125 pounds of canned and non-perishable food items were donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. Extra money left over from the $1 Hoyas Against Hunger event - approximately $75 - was used to purchase certain goods.

As they have in recent years, student-athletes participated in the Wreaths Across America event, held on Dec. 10. The Georgetown contingent, led by junior baseball player James Heine (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill) and Head Coach Pete Wilk, traveled to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia and placed wreaths on the tombs of fallen soldiers.

SAAC also participated in the Angel giving tree, presented by J.C. Penny. They sponsored 40 "angels" and purchased gifts for them, as the charity provides for the less fortunate who can't provide for themselves during the holiday season.

During the $1 Hoyas Against Hunger event, Notario and approximately 20 student-athletes from various teams, came together in early November at McDonough Arena and set to making sandwiches. The goal was to make 360 sandwiches - a goal that was exceeded with 475 made - which would then be brought to the soup kitchen.

Along the way, SAAC raised $375 from $1 donations from student-athletes - a figure that was matched by the athletics department - to help raise funds for the makings of sandwiches.

"My thought was that it was just a one dollar donation from most of us here at school and to have the department match that meant a lot to us," Notario said. "As it turned out, we were able to use some of that money to help other events too."

Notario and his SAAC committee members wanted to get more involved during the first semester and though these events, hope they can continue to reach the community in the spring.

"Hoyas Against Hunger was the first time SAAC or any other student-athlete organization at Georgetown had tried an event like that and the response was tremendous," he said. "Many student-athletes were extremely excited that we could give back in a small way through any of these events. The chance to make a difference in our local community is very important to us. This university prides itself that it builds "men and women for others" striving for social justice and that is one of the reasons why a lot of us come here. What is more meaningful is not what it does for us student-athletes, but what it means to those who need this food or these items."

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