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Towson, Arkansas Tech and Alma student-athletes honored for outreach

NCAA Team Works Helper Helper award is based on number of community service hours and volunteers

Student-athletes at Towson, Arkansas Tech and Alma have earned the NCAA Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition award for their community outreach efforts this fall.

NCAA Team Works, which coordinates community service efforts at NCAA championships, and Helper Helper, a volunteer management and tracking platform, launched the community service competition to recognize student-athletes who give back to their communities. The competition, which ran from September through November, is based on the number of service hours completed and the number of participating student-athletes. Helper Helper tallies the school participation throughout the competition.

Towson football student-athletes engaged with youth at a local school.

Towson earned first place in the Division I category. A total of 537 student-athletes participated in community outreach, hosting more than 62 events and tallying 5,583 hours. The Tigers volunteered to bring more awareness to causes such as autism and the fight for a cure for diseases such as cancer. They also worked with youth development in schools and focused on the importance of physical activity for health benefits.

“It is an honor for Towson athletics to win the NCAA Team Works Helper Helper competition for community service,” said Antwaine Smith, senior assistant athletics director of the Towson Total Tiger Program. “This success is the direct result of the commitment from our student-athletes, coaches and athletic administration, in addition to the university’s emphasis on engaging with the Greater Baltimore community. Our student-athletes’ community service efforts are not only a source of pride for them, but their efforts are rapidly becoming a legacy for our department.”

The student-athletes at Arkansas Tech earned first-place honors in the Division II category. The school had 100 percent participation from its student-athletes, who completed 3,535 hours of community work. The athletes donated time to 23 local nonprofit organizations, including River Valley Food 4 Kids and The First Tee. They also spent over 800 hours volunteering at local elementary schools, mentoring and reading to the students and creating food backpacks.

“The work of the Arkansas Tech student-athletes and coaches is to be commended,” Robin Bowen, president at Arkansas Tech, said. “In addition to their studies and their athletic pursuits, these students give numerous hours of service to the local community. I am genuinely appreciative of their efforts to make our community and region a better place.”

The Division III award is the second for Alma student-athletes. Alma had 561 student-athletes participate in outreach, logging 2,789 hours. The Alma Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was influential in participation efforts, as it encouraged all of its student-athletes to get in the community and serve.

Activities for the Alma student-athletes included writing Christmas cards and going shopping for items for military troops. They joined a local insurance company in Alma to collect and pack the items and had good participation from their various teams.

“So many people have given to us throughout our lives, and we’re grateful and blessed to be in the position we are now to give back to them,” said Jared Fleming, a member of the Alma track and field team, who is also a member of SAAC and president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “It’s the least we can do to help out in the local community. Often the little things make the most impact, and we just tried to do a lot of those little things. We don’t volunteer for the awards, but we appreciate the recognition and are honored to represent Alma College and our community here in Gratiot County.”

Finishing behind Towson in the Division I competition were Southern Illinois and Miami (Florida). Division II second- and third-place finishers included Georgian Court and Georgia Southwestern. Wisconsin-Platteville and Shenandoah rounded out the Division III second- and third-place spots.

The NCAA will honor the student-athletes at Towson, Arkansas Tech and Alma this spring on their respective campuses. This is the fifth NCAA Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition. In all, student-athletes combined this year to do more than 173,820 hours of community service in a total of 4,432 opportunities with local organizations. The tally represents a 34 percent increase from last year’s challenge.