For the first time in over 35 years, CSU athletes from every varsity sport came together in a department-wide service project. Student athletes surrounded tables in Moby Arena Monday night, working together to assemble care packages for the homeless community in Fort Collins.
The event was the culmination of a semester-long initiative called Rams Care, a program that, according to volleyball defensive specialist and co-founder Michelle Smith, was meant to bring the entire athletic department together for a good cause.
“We never really had a service project where all the sports came together for a common goal, which really fueled the development of Rams Care,” Smith said.
Smith, a member of SAAC (the Student Athlete Advisory Committee), pitched the idea to the committee and took the lead in organizing and planning the events.
“I just saw an opportunity to have an impact and I wanted to take advantage of it to bring awareness to the homeless in Fort Collins,” Smith said.
Through the program, student athletes collected change at three separate sporting events including a volleyball game, a football game and the CSU v. CU home basketball showdown.
Rams Care raised over $3,600 from the collection dates and were able to assemble over 130 care packages with the proceeds Monday night. They exceeded their initial goal of $2,000 just after the Boise State football game.
Seth Butler, a senior CSU track and field runner and co-founder of Rams Care, helped Smith in the initial development of the program. In a previous experience with serving the homeless community, Butler held a large role in deciding how Rams Care would be focused. He remembers how the story of a homeless veteran impacted him.
Butler said he had the opportunity to go to Dallas, TX for a Student Athlete Leadership forum where he did a similar day of service.
“I had somebody come up and say ‘hey I was impacted by homelessness. When you’re homeless and somebody takes the time to do something like this it is encouraging and it can help me get back on my feet. What you guys are doing is meaningful,’” Butler said.
Butler hoped that the Rams Care Day of Service project, could also shine light on CSU’s student athletes outside of their sports.
“We are not here just to play our sport, but to make a difference in the lives of others with the platform we have been given as student athletes. We are trying to reach out and make an impact in our community,” Butler said.
Shortly after assembling the care packages, which are composed of basic needs items, they were taken to Catholic Charities Northern, one of two homeless shelters in Fort Collins. Regional Director of the shelter, Glenn Good, was thankful for the sentiment.
“A lot of what I do here at Catholic Charities is try to raise money to support our programs,” Good said. “It is a never ending challenge to meet the need for the type of work that we do. When I hear that someone like Rams Care is interested in supporting what we do it is a blessing.”
The Catholic Charities shelter provides emergency shelter to men, women and families and also serves over 90,000 meals a year.
Good made the decision to work with the homeless population after volunteering at a shelter in Oregon for a number of years and helping to start an emergency shelter.
“The many nights that I spent just talking to people I found that they were just regular people often times, some of them with mental illness or drug addiction, some of them with just bad luck. Some had just lost their jobs,” Good said.
Smith and Butler will both graduate this year and hope that Rams Care will continue to serve the community long after they are gone.
“I know I’m going to look back years from now and this is going to be a very special part of my experience,” Smith said. “Whether or not I remember every win or loss, it’s events like these that are really going to stick out.”
Collegian Reporter Natasha Leadem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.