WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University's 25 varsity teams joined the University community Monday and participated in this year's MLK Day of Service, an annual event in which students honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by doing acts of service for community partners.
Over 1,000 students traded a day off for the day of service, hosted by the Office of Campus Ministry, braving frigid temperatures and helping the D.C. community. Catholic's athletic teams served at several organizations and areas around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Residence, Washington Parks & People, Carroll Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Groundwork Anacostia, Washington Yu Ying Charter School, and the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.
While the department has participated each year since Campus Ministry introduced the initiative in 2006, this year marks the first time every team has taken part in the day of service.
"It was really exciting to get 100% of our teams and administrators involved in the day of service for the first time," said head women's lacrosse coach Meghan McDonogh. "We showed solidarity as a department and definitely made an impact with all of our teams!"
Beginning the day in the Pryzbyla Center for breakfast and morning prayer, the Catholic University service staff then gave out t-shirts with Dr. King's famous quote "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" as a motto to consider throughout the day of serving others. University President John Garvey and Associate Director of Campus Ministry Emmjolee Mendoza Waters highlighted the athletic teams' presence while thanking all students for dedicating a day to serve. The teams then left to begin their work, doing service projects throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area.
The men's and women's basketball team traveled to Yu Ying School to help students and their families make snack bags for Miriam's Kitchen homeless shelter and goodie bags for patients at Children's National Hospital. Team members also got to organize classrooms and play games with the grade school students.
The baseball and men's and women's golf teams joined the women's lacrosse team and served at Washington Hebrew Congregation. Women's lacrosse and the golf teams helped make casseroles and other foods while the baseball team worked on fraying blankets and tying them together for the homeless.
"Service is such an important aspect of life here at Catholic," said junior men's golfer Cavan Hagerty. "It allows us as athletes to add another layer to our college experience while at the same time giving back to a community that has given so much to us."
Several teams bundled up and made an impact outdoors, cleaning areas in the city. The men's and women's soccer team spent time beautifying the areas around Rock Creek Park. Men's lacrosse made its way to Pope Branch Park and cleared debris around the Anacostia River. The cross country and track teams, as well as the swimming & diving teams, worked to clean up separate locations along the river.
The men's and women's tennis teams joined the field hockey team to spend time with the residents at Carroll Manor Nursing Home at Providence Hospital. There they enjoyed spending time with the residents and playing board games to brighten their day.
The football, volleyball, and softball teams joined forces at the Franciscan Monastery to perform a number of outdoor tasks. The football and volleyball teams helped put the "many hands make light work" phrase into action by forming an assembly line to move heavy lanterns and other objects around the large site. Members of the softball team helped beautify the site's greenhouse and gardens.
The men's and women's rowing team joined President Garvey and his wife Jeanne at Little Sisters of the Poor, where they made crafts and organized the food pantries.
The swim team summed up the day up well in their social media post after the morning of service: "We love being able to give back in a city that we love!"