Southland Gives Back: Southeastern provides Christmas gifts to local children

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SLU Lions

Lions’ athletic department partners with CASA to support children in difficult situations

HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) partnered with CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) in Hammond to make a difference this Christmas for children in difficult situations.

Each Lions program, including the national champion cheerleaders and Lionette dance team, sponsored a child to ensure they were able to receive items on their Christmas lists. All told, 14 local children ranging in age from six months to 17, benefitted from Southeastern’s efforts.

“Our mission statement calls for our student-athletes to strive for excellence in the classroom, in competition and the community,” Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Support Services and SAAC advisor Austin Knight commented. “At the holidays, our student-athletes want to be thankful for what they have and this was a great opportunity to give back to our community by helping children who may be in difficult situations have a better Christmas. We’re really proud of how our student-athletes stepped up.”

SLU SAAC Vice President of Community Outreach and Partnerships Natalie Kelly, a junior center on the Southeastern women’s basketball team, spearheaded the effort. After collecting donations from their teammates and coaches, teams went out to buy gifts for the child they adopted for the project.

“It was a great honor for us to be able to provide these gifts to kids in need,” SAAC President & baseball student-athlete Connor Manola said. “We were happy to pitch in to help make sure these kids could have a Christmas they dream of having.”

“I think it was a powerful experience for our student-athletes and a lot of our teams went out and did the shopping together, so it was a chance for our teams to spend some time together doing something that will make a difference,” Knight commented. “Natalie was able to see the reactions of the people at CASA, which I think meant a lot to her and the rest of our student-athletes. But the most excited people will be the children when they receive the gifts and that’s the most important thing.”

As part of the “Southland Gives Back” initiative, the Southland Conference will profile a community service outing from each of our member institutions this holiday season.

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