KEENE, N.H. 11/25/13 – Keene State College student athletes are a busy bunch, between classes, jobs, practices and games there's little time for most of them to do community service work.
However, the Keene State women's basketball team solved the problem. Working in conjunction with Sodexho, the food service provider at the College, the team found a way for the athletes to donate a meal to the Keene Community Kitchen. "We did it when I was at Norwich," said KSC women's basketball coach Keith Boucher. "I brought it up with the coaches last spring and everybody thought it was a good idea."
Sodexho was happy to get involved. "It's called "meal sign-away," said Josef Quirinale, the general manager of Sodexho at Keene State the past four years. "The athletes forfeit a meal for the week then an equivalent amount of food is donated to the Keene Community Kitchen, said Quirinale. "It's a very nice thing to do and it gives the athletes a feeling that they've done something good for the community."
"The original plan was to have just members of the women's basketball team donating a meal, but we decided to include all of the student athletes," said Brooke Long, an assistant coach with the Owls who helped coordinate the event.
Members of Keene State's student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) went back to their respective teams asking them if they'd be interested getting involved with the community service project. "When I first mentioned it to the women's swim team they didn't have to think about it. Just about everybody gave up a meal right away," said junior Diana Pimer. "It felt awesome. This time of year people want to help others not as fortunate. At the end of the day, you don't really need that extra meal and someone else could use it a lot more."
The response was tremendous with 175 KSC student athletes forgoing dinner last Friday night. "It's always good to give back to the community any way that you can," said Nick Gagliolo, a sophomore on the men's basketball team. "I have an unlimited meal plan, so it's the least I can do. It felt good to do it."
"We don't have very much time to do anything else, so this was a way we could give back without taking too much time out of our day," said Brianna McCain, a senior captain on the KSC women's basketball team.
"The holidays are a tough for some families, so this gives people who are not as privileged as us the chance to have good hot meal," said Nikki Stacy, a junior on the Owl women's basketball team. "Everyone on the team did that and it was great. It's really rewarding when you can make someone's day."
Phoebe Bray, the Executive Director of the Keene Community Kitchen, said thanks to the athletes several hundred pound of food came over from the College. "We're always delighted to partner with Keene State in anything that they do. When you think of the athletes' tight schedules, they can't do very much otherwise. This is just a way of showing how mature and respectful they are of the people in the community."