By: Farren Benjamin, USC Student-Athlete
As the fall semester quickly comes to a close and the holiday hustle-bustle starts to peak, USC student-athletes still found time to come together this holiday season to lend a helping hand to children in the surrounding neighborhood and make the second annual Community Bowl possible.
On Saturday, more than 120 USC student-athletes representing 10 of USC's varsity sports took a trip to Vermont Elementary School - one of the USC Family of Schools - to help finish many projects that wouldn't have been possible without the help of so many student-athletes, parent volunteers from the Trojan Athletic Parents Association (TAPA), members of the athletic department, and members of the community.
"A day like this is just as powerful for our student-athletes as it is for these elementary school kids," said Scott Jacobson, assistant athletic director for development. "It speaks volumes about our student-athletes, that they understand what it means not only to be an athlete and a student, but what it means to be a student-athlete in a community where there is room to give back."
Some of the work the student-athletes assisted with included numerous painting projects, such as the outside of the kindergarten rooms and inside the hallways, athletic lines on the blacktop, and the planters and benches around the buildings, as well as designing murals. The student-athletes also spent time reading Dr. Seuss books to the children and teaching them about making healthy choices when it comes to food and nutrition.
"It was such a great experience just getting to take a break from studying for finals to go hang out with the kids," junior golfer Sophia Popov said. "I met a ton of great children, including my buddy Jose, and it was so nice having them there with us on a Saturday to help renovate their school and making it a better place for everyone."
Once majority of the projects were completed, the student-athletes were able to play games with the kids including basketball, four-square, hula-hoop and on the jungle gyms as well as teach them the basic rules of competing and sportsmanship.
"It was great to be able to spend a few hours with these amazing kids," sophomore pitcher Wyatt Strahan said. "I had so much fun playing games and marbles with the kids. It was definitely an experience I will never forget."
The second annual Community Bowl is just one of the many service projects that extends the USC athletic program's rich tradition of giving back to the community and helping the USC Family of Schools in many ways.
"This was my second year volunteering for the Community Bowl," senior track and field athlete Alitta Boyd said. "I strongly feel that this program will establish a new legacy of giving back to the surrounding community for Trojans for years to come.
"Vermont Elementary is one of the USC Family of Schools, which provides educational, cultural and developmental opportunities to more than 17,000 children in 15 schools surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. More than 1,300 USC students, faculty and staff work with thousands of parents, teachers, school administrators, neighbors, police officers and other community representatives to develop ways in which children can access the community's rich resources, including its institutions of higher learning, its museums, libraries and recreation facilities.