Clay: UK football team raises $1,000 to feed hungry

Raise $1,000 to feed families for the holiday

jclay@herald-leader.comNovember 26, 2010 

Ask poor college students to give a little money toward anything, even a good cause, and the reply can be thanks, but no thanks.

That wouldn't be Thanksgiving, however.

"It was a hit," admitted Anthony Mosley.

The "it" being a fund-raiser sponsored by Helping Hands, in association with the University of Kentucky's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, to supply food for Thanksgiving baskets being delivered to needy families in the Lexington area.

Mosley, a junior cornerback and SAAC member, decided to make the fund-raiser into a football-team project. Instead of collecting a few dollars here and there, he asked teammates to contribute some of their per diem money.

"I decided that it was a big enough deal that maybe we can get the team involved," said Mosley after Wednesday's practice. "I explained it to some of my teammates, and I made the bigger announcement in the team room, and everybody agreed to do it. We raised $500."

Head coach Joker Phillips played the match game, bringing the total to $1,000.

"That's 'Operation Win' and a huge part of what that means," Phillips said Wednesday. "Our players giving their own meal money, I felt a need to match it."

Not any of this should be a surprise, mind you, given that UK is third all-time in the number of members on the American Football Coaches Association's Good Works team.

"They were really willing to give," Mosley said of his teammates. "I explained that some people don't have Thanksgiving dinner. We get our $15 and go and buy pizza with it or something, and they were very willing."

One in particular.

"A giver that kind of stood out was Brian Adams," said Mosley of the redshirt freshman wide receiver. "He actually gave $45."

It takes a giver to see a giver, and Mosley, along with teammate Taiedo Smith, a junior safety, have participated in several such projects.

Recently, Smith and linebacker Ronnie Sneed read to first-graders at Squires Elementary, where they talked about dreams and goals.

Two weeks ago, Smith and Mosley traveled to Versailles, where they talked not just to the Woodford County football team, but to six academically ineligible players.

"Basically, the message was, it's never too late to get your act together, especially academically," Mosley said. "Now I was (on the Academic SEC honor roll), and I made the Dean's List, but I didn't start out like that. I explained to them that a 3.0 is the same number whether you have it the whole time or get it at the end."

"They were very receptive," Smith said. "I know one kid, he had a scholarship offer, and he said that he was waiting on his academics. We exchanged numbers with some of them and, if they ever need us, they can call us."

That made an impression on Dustin Lewis, Life Skills Coordinator for UK's CATS program.

"Not surprisingly, both Anthony and Tai texted me that night and thanked me for driving them to Versailles and said they wanted to visit the six ineligible kids in the spring to 'see how they finished the semester,' " said Lewis via e-mail.

"Now ask yourself — how many football student-athletes would have volunteered for this project, much less followed up with me because they were interested in building a relationship with the kids they met with for 30 minutes?"

"The big part about it was, they weren't bad kids, or anything like that," Mosley said. "They just didn't have anybody to talk to them like that."

Or people willing to talk. Or ask their teammates to contribute to a good cause.

"The profession I would like to do is something that could help somebody," Mosley said. "Here, I'm just trying to put a different face on Kentucky as a university, and Kentucky football, as well. Not so that we're just Saturdays, but that we're people and we need help, and we can help people."

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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