Dec. 8, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - For the fourth consecutive year, Utah State Athletics teamed up with eFORCE® Software this Holiday season for the annual Shop with a Jock event. This event provides deserving children the opportunity to go Christmas shopping with 40 student-athlete representatives from each of Utah State's varsity athletic teams as well as Big Blue. The event also presents student-athletes with the opportunity to give back to the local community who supports them throughout their careers at Utah State.
"I participated in Shop with a Jock because it was an opportunity to reach out and give back to the community. They are constantly supporting us by attending athletic events, so I felt it was important to give back," said freshman men's track student-athlete, Devin Wright; "I also wanted to give less fortunate kids an opportunity for a memorable Christmas."
The youth participants were nominated by a local elementary school to attend. The event, held on Monday, December 5, 2011, began at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum with an autograph signing session and photos on the Spectrum floor. After being assigned their shopping partners, the Shop with a Jock crew headed to a local retailer to begin their holiday shopping.
"My favorite part about the experience was the bus ride. I sat next to a little boy that couldn't contain his excitement about the fact that he was about to go to pick out some great things to have a great Christmas," said junior, Shay Sorensen, of the volleyball team.
"Seeing those kids faces all light up at the sight of some new toys and clothes reminded me of all I have," said Sorensen, "This experience really shows me what the Christmas season is all about--giving to others."
While shopping, the student-athletes helped the youth check off their shopping list needs and wants. For many of the children, the needs of their siblings, such as boots or a gift for a parent who usually goes without, surfaced as the priority over a toy they wanted for themselves.
"The thing I will remember most about Shop with a Jock is how selfless the kids were. The boy I was shopping with wanted to make sure he got something for every one of his siblings. At only nine years old, he would put gifts away for himself so that he had the opportunity to get something for them," said sophomore, Kendra Pemberton, of soccer. "It amazed me how he still thought of others before himself when there were so many things he needed and wanted."
The evening also gave student-athletes the opportunity to be kids again themselves while they played catch, created competitions, and determined which toys were the coolest with their youth shopping partners. There was constant energy as the student-athletes had to run to keep up with some of the kids who were utilizing their time shopping to play around with college athletes.
Freshman football student-athlete, Kevin Whimpey, said, "Seeing the constant smiles from children all around, specifically the child I was able to work with, was amazing. Chasing a five-year-old around as his Christmas wishes were being fulfilled was a great experience."
"The last couple of years we have noticed a need in the community. There's a growing number of kids who are going without for Christmas. We started this event to help fill that need, and in doing so, it has become something that our whole office looks forward to throughout the year," said Cory Bowers, CEO of eFORCE® Software. "We choose to work with the Athletics Department because of the great example the athletes can be to the young kids. As this was our fourth year doing the event, it has been fun to watch these young kids develop friendships with the athletes in the community."
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