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CCU Atheneum: Cari Rosiek, associate athletics director, leads the gathering of school supplies for the Department of Athletics.
Cari Rosiek, associate athletics director, leads the gathering of school supplies for the Department of Athletics.

Athletics gathers school supplies for Pee Dee Elementary students

by Alexandra Morris
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For the Division I athletic teams at Coastal Carolina University, teamwork doesn’t end with the game. Off the courts and fields, these college athletes are gaining major points for their dedication to community service.

It all started four years ago when associate athletics director Cari Rosiek had an idea. “Community service is very high on my list as a way to develop student athletes,” says Rosiek. “A few years ago, we felt we weren’t doing enough, so I looked into the community and found Pee Dee Elementary.”

Pee Dee Elementary in Conway is a Title I school where 76.3 percent of the student population gets a free or reduced price lunch based on family income guidelines.

“My job here at Pee Dee is to help the children,” says Pee Dee Elementary family facilitator Paige Conner. “We try to help the underprivileged and homeless children and families. I collect everything from socks and shoes to food.”

Rosiek and her Student-Athlete Advisory Committee decided to organize a week-long school supply drive to help out this semester. The entire athletics office donates, from athletes to coaches and administrators. Now four years later, they are continuing the drive from Aug. 15 until Sept 5.

“As student-athletes gather supplies, my office in Arcadia Hall gets really full,” says Rosiek. “We try to get anything we can—crayons, folders, paper, pencil boxes and more.”

After a week of collecting, Rosiek and the students-athletes go the extra mile. They all deliver the supplies to the school and spend a day with the students.

Men’s track & field high jumper and 2014 finance graduate Reginald Nelson says this is just another way of saying thank you. “It warms my heart when we visit the children at Pee Dee Elementary,” he says. “From seeing the smiles on their faces, to motivating them to be the very best they can be.”

“It gives the athletes a sense of fulfillment to give back,” says Rosiek. “Throughout the year, we have other drives during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The athletes will go to the school cafeteria and make sure the students have a full meal that day.”

Rosiek likes to emphasize to the student-athletes that help is needed right outside CCU’s doorstep. Pee Dee Elementary is only a short 15-minute drive from campus.

“There are numerous students from Pee Dee Elementary who will express a need for a new door for their house or new clothes,” says Rosiek. “Some are wearing shoes three sizes too small. Our connection is not only a week long. We try to find out what is needed and help in any way we can.”

Rosiek and her teams plan to continue the connection with Pee Dee Elementary for years to come.

“The children love to see that someone cares,” says Nelson. “It’s a humbling experience to be in a position where we can make a positive impact on someone’s life.”


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