BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh Athletics continued its tremendous work in the community on Thursday as Mountain Hawks’ student-athletes directed their 13th annual Adopt-A-Family event at Donegan Elementary School in Bethlehem. Each Lehigh team adopted an underprivileged family to help share in the holiday season. The teams raised money throughout the semester to purchase holiday presents for their adopted family, and on Thursday, the Mountain Hawks presented those gifts to their families.
“As student-athletes, we do a lot of fundraising, purchasing gifts and wrapping,” said softball senior Jen Colquhoun, who is also co-chair of Adopt-A-Family along with football junior Tom Ruley. “Behind the scenes, there’s a lot more that goes into it. Preparing everything takes a really long time - months and months - but in the end, it’s a very happy, merry and heartwarming feeling.”
“C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping) does a great job of organizing everything,” said football senior Shane Ryan. “Each team really puts in a lot of time and effort. We went shopping, then the Hall of Fame was packed a week ago with Christmas music blasting and people wrapping presents. It’s a great atmosphere.”
The teams met with their families, as children were allowed to open some presents on the spot. Clutch, the Lehigh Mountain Hawk, was on hand as was Santa Claus, who was spreading holiday cheer. Food and drinks were provided to round out a special evening for all parties involved.
“This event puts things into perspectives,” said Ryan. “Especially with final [exams] coming up, we can lose that. It shows what’s really important. When you see the smiles on their faces, you know you’re making a difference in someone’s life. That’s a great feeling.”
“Usually the first thing you see is utter gratitude and tears in the families’ eyes,” said Colquhoun. “You feel so happy that you can do this for someone. Lehigh affects us in such a positive way, and we want to give back.”
“As the families are coming in, we get excited too,” said Ryan. “We want to give them their presents; it’s like our Christmas morning too. As a team, we do more than just play a football game. We’re trying to reach out and help people in the community; that’s something we always pride ourselves on.”
“It’s really special,” said Colquhoun. “Everyone supports everyone else, then when we come together to help the community as one big body, it’s really special.”
Be sure to check out a special report from the event, which will run on Service Electric 2 Sports during the 6:00 and 9:30 p.m. segments tomorrow (Friday).