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SOS and Helping Hands

Nov. 11, 2011

Clemson University student-athletes and the Solid Orange Squad have a long-standing relationship with Helping Hands, a halfway house for children in the area. This year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Solid Orange Squad have teamed up to create an even stronger partnership with Helping Hands and to bring some joy into the lives of children in tough living situations.

This fall, SAAC has started a new pen pal program, called T.I.G.E.R! Pals, with some children at Helping Hands. Once a week, the children are allowed phone calls and/or the opportunity to receive mail, but sadly, many of them never receive anything. The student-athletes thought it would be a cool idea to send a letter to a child once a week. They will be working their way through the T.I.G.E.R. traits (Teamwork, Integrity, Gratitude, Education and Respect) established by the Be a T.I.G.E.R! character program. The children will hopefully write back after receiving their letters, and begin to form a positive relationship with some of the student-athletes.

“While we are all excited to have an opportunity to make contact with these children, we have already had bittersweet moments of children leaving the home,” noted Taylor Hoynacki, a senior on the rowing team and a SAAC officer. Although some student-athletes will have several pen pals throughout the year, the effort to develop these relationships will hopefully positively influence some of the children at Helping Hands.

Another way SOS and SAAC have strengthened the relationship with Helping Hands was by taking the children trick-or-treating for Halloween. Each year on Halloween, the Merchants of Clemson and City of Clemson – Parks and Recreation invite families and children to College Avenue for trick-or-treating and pumpkin decorating. This year, representatives from Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Solid Orange Squad and Clemson Air Force ROTC teamed up to help over twenty children from Helping Hands enjoy the Halloween festivities. Each college student was paired with a `buddy’ as they walked door to door, giving the kids a chance to fill their buckets with candy. Several of the children took a break halfway through trick-or-treating, where they decorated their own pumpkins. After collecting more candy the children finished off the evening with hotdogs provided by the First Baptist Church college group.

This was a great opportunity for the children to enjoy a night with some of the Clemson students that they admire. This is an opportunity that the children don’t have often, so “we are happy and thankful that all the kids had a great Halloween,” said David Dannelly, a member of the Clemson golf team and president of SAAC.

The Solid Orange Squad and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will continue to plan events throughout the year with Helping Hands with the hopes of giving the kids more great experiences to remember.