Before the coin flip, before the first pass or tackle took place at the Russell Athletic Bowl, fans of the <a href="http://www.miami.edu/" title="University of Miami">University of Miami</a> Hurricanes and the University of Louisville Cardinals took time to participate in a volunteer event to benefit those impacted by the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
The volunteers – about 35 students, alumni, staff and family members from each school – met at Clean the World Orlando, a non-profit organization that recycles and repackages partially used amenities from seven of the world’s top 10 hotel chains, including Disney, Starwood, Marriott and Hyatt. Founder and Executive Director Shawn Seipler explained to volunteers that one million bars of soap are thrown away at United States hotels every day, soap which his company grinds up, sterilizes and makes into new bars that are distributed in 70 countries and to homeless shelters and food pantries in the US. Volunteers worked assembly line-style, filling bags with soap, shampoo, lotion, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush and a washcloth.
The day’s production of 2,518 kits was destined for the Philippines, but Seipler said his organization distributed similar kits in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010 and to many other countries after natural disasters.
Audrey Kidwell, a UM alum (MS, 2013) who is now the volunteer and community outreach coordinator at the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, volunteered, and brought her parents, Dan and Pam, and her brother Aaron to help out as well. Dan Kidwell said the family lives in Indiana but spent the holidays in Cocoa Beach, so it was easy to drive to Orlando and work at the event with Audrey. “I love giving back and spending time with my family; this is a great way to do both,” he said.
UM staffers who pitched in, filling bags and folding washcloths included Athletic Director Blake James, who brought his wife Kelly, and Donna Arbide, assistant vice president for alumni relations, who brought five family members with her.
“This is an important part of bowl activity,” Arbide said. “We’re sending a message about serving the community, and that’s an important part of higher education in general.”
James said he thinks it’s great that staff and fans are truly able to make an impact on the community with events like the one at Clean the World. “We talk about the monetary impact of bowl games, but what gets lost is that we can make a real impact on the local community too,” he said.
The Orlando Alumni Club sent members to help out as well. Deborah Moskowitz (BSC, 1994) is an attorney in Orlando and loved the idea of her alma mater doing community service in her hometown. “Service is ingrained in us during our undergrad years at UM,” she said. “Now I get to do something for with UM for my hometown? That’s a real win-win.”
<a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"><em>Annette Gallagher</em></a><em> can be reached at 305-284-1121.</em>