The Ohio State Department of Athletics participates in this season of giving with several fundraising and collections events
by Courtney Walerius, Ohio State Athletics Communications

It’s that time of year, when family and friends come together. When meals are shared and gifts are exchanged. And whether it is through food donations, clothing collections, toy drives, fundraisers or gathering items for the troops overseas, Ohio State teams and athletics department staff have made sure that in this season of good-tidings the Buckeyes give thanks for all of the support received throughout the year by giving back to the Columbus community and beyond.

Earlier this fall, the field hockey team wanted to give to local soldiers, of which some are relatives of the team, and decided to collect items for care packages during its 2008 home games. In just seven home games this season, the team encouraged fans to “Support Our Troops” and collected over 20 bags of donated items. The care packages included snacks, toiletries and personal letters of thanks to remind soldiers of home and show appreciation and all the collected items were given to Operation Buckeye. The Columbus-based organization has sent over 5,700 care packages to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During Michigan Week, the giving continued with both food and clothing drives at Ohio State athletics venues. The OSU Golf Club held a Drive Fore Food, Nov. 14-22. During a time when many food banks are hit hardest, members of the golf club and Ohio State staff brought in an average of 78 pounds of non-perishable food items per day for a 700-pound total. The donations benefited the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and will help replenish its shelves during this holiday season.

“We are continually trying to find positive ways to give back to our community,” Marc Lucas, OSU Golf Course Manager, said. “With the economy down and the holiday season quickly approaching, we felt this was one of the best ideas that would have an immediate impact.”

The donation collections continued at Ohio State’s Official Team Shop, where Buckeye fans were encouraged to “Lose the Blue” and donate their gently used blue clothing items. Collection sites also were stationed at all Buckeye Corner locations, College Traditions and the Barnes & Noble bookstore on North High Street. In just four days, the shops totaled more than 7,000 pounds of clothing that was then donated to Goodwill Columbus.

This weekend, two Ohio State teams will say thanks by giving to the children of Columbus. During its final two home games of the regular season, the women’s volleyball team will partner with Community Kitchen, Inc., to host a toy drive. While the Buckeyes play at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in St. John Arena, they will have bins placed at the entrances to collect new, unopened gifts for boys and girls whose ages range between late childhood to preteen.

After their final homestand, the Buckeyes will wrap and deliver the presents as a team to the nonprofit center on South Ohio Avenue in Columbus. This is the second time this year the women’s volleyball team has collaborated with Community Kitchen, Inc. In August, the members of the team and coaching staff helped prepare, serve and cleanup lunch at the kitchen.

“The women’s volleyball team not only served lunch but took the time to answer questions and talk with our clients last August,” Donald C. Ferrell, Community Kitchen, Inc., executive director, said. “It is a real pickup for our clients to have concerned young adults take time out of their busy schedule of academics and athletics to collect and donate toys for the children at the Community Kitchen’s Christmas Eve Party.”

Over at Value City Arena, the men’s hockey team has organized a silent auction during its Friday game at 7 p.m. against Nebraska-Omaha. All proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Fans can bid on signed Ohio State items featuring football coach Jim Tressel, men’s basketball coach Thad Matta, men’s hockey coach John Markell and the 2008-09 men’s hockey team.

The men’s hockey team has become involved with the juvenile diabetes this season after a representative spoke to the team about the need to raise awareness and increase medical research. This fall, the team also volunteered at the Walk to Cure Diabetes.

“Our student-athletes are getting more and more involved in community service and this is a great time of year to be giving back,” Miechelle Willis, Ohio State Senior Associate Athletics Director, said. “The community events going on this weekend are an example of the growing interest our student-athletes have in helping others that are less fortunate.”