ROCK HILL, S.C. - A Winthrop Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) project led to the collection of shoes for 2,400 needy children through a Samaritan’s Feet project and key participation in a Big South Conference community service project.
For its efforts in collecting nearly 2,400 of the 10,515 shoes received through the conference-wide project, Winthrop’s SAAC group was declared this week the winner of the Big South Conference’s Kallander Cup for the second consecutive year. The Kallander Cup was created in 2006 to engage student-athletes from all member schools in a year-long fundraising project for charity.
Winthrop men’s soccer player Matt Horn, a junior from Charlotte, N.C., serves as the Big South SAAC president and was highly involved in Winthrop’s successful effort in the Samaritan Feet campaign.
“The Samaritan’s Feet project was one of the most eye-opening community service initiatives I have ever been a part of,” he says. “The participation from the students, our athletes, the faculty and staff and the community was incredible. Nothing is more important than knowing that our efforts will improve the lives of children all over the world and bring smiles to their faces.
“I want to give a tremendous thank you to everyone that helped make our project such a success. We certainly look forward to working with future projects that will inspire our community and help the less fortunate,” says Horn.
According to Norma McDuffie, Winthrop’s SAAC advisor and senior woman’s administrator for the athletic department, Winthrop’s group worked throughout the academic year collecting athletic shoes. It held competitions for collections at local elementary schools and rewarded winning classrooms with activities and games run by the student-athletes. Local stores, churches and the YMCA also allowed SAAC to set up collection bins at their locations. “We hosted barefoot basketball games and sponsored a cultural event for the university community that featured Samaritan’s Feet founder and president Manny Ohonme as guest speaker,” said McDuffie.
Ohonme told Winthrop’s student-athletes that children around the world are suffering from diseases, infections and many other ailments because they don’t have shoes to wear. Ohonme, a native of Nigeria who grew up very poor, spoke from personal experience as he did not have shoes to wear until he received a pair at age 9 from a missionary. In 2003 he started Samaritan’s Feet with the goal of putting 10 million pairs of shoes on children’s feet in 10 years.
Winthrop Athletic Director Tom Hickman had words of praise for the Winthrop SAAC organization and McDuffie's leadership. “This is indeed special to have our student-athletes, coordinated by our SAAC, bring home the Kallander Cup once again. I know that a lot of hard work and dedication went into this achievement,” he says.