SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University athletes brought a little extra warmth to students at Weller Elementary in Springfield on Friday, February 18. Each student received an Evangel University sweatshirt, compliments of EU's Center for Compassion.
"This was a great opportunity for our student-athletes to meet a physical need while also providing students with a long-term goal and the vision of being a college student," said Steve Gause, EU associate athletic director.
The distribution was done as part of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Association of Student-Athletes' annual Day of Caring.
Evangel has a decades-long relationship with Weller, which is located a couple of blocks north of campus. As the most ethnically diverse elementary school in Springfield, Weller is an English Language Learners site. Families from the continents of Asia, Europe, Central America, and Africa have kids who attend pre-K through 5th grade at Weller.
Dr. Rebecca Donaldson, principal, has a goal to help her students develop a vision for their future.
"We are trying to help our students see college as a realistic goal, and this ongoing relationship with Evangel University is a great way to highlight that," she said.
"At the same time, we want to show Evangel students how community service through partnering is a good thing for everyone," she said. Donaldson earned her master's degree from Evangel in 2004.
Students of all majors at Evangel are involved in helping Weller students think positively about academics and opportunities.
Education, social work, and business majors and student-athletes alike volunteer on a regular basis, both at the school and through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the area.
Center for Compassion also coordinates an annual grocery distribution event for Weller families in coordination with Convoy of Hope as part of the university's new student orientation week in August.
"I love what this does for our partnerships both on and off-campus," said Melissa Pulis, associate director of the Center for Compassion. "We are focused on compassionate service, and we feel like Weller Elementary is an extension of our EU family in many ways. We hope this small gift brightens students' days and reminds them that we are cheering them on!"
In total, almost 200 sweatshirts were distributed to Weller students and teachers by EU student-athletes from across the Athletic Department.