Dec. 12, 2003
WACO, Texas -
Baylor student-athletes participated in Adopt an Angel at the Compassion Ministries home in Waco on Wednesday, bringing holiday cheer and Christmas gifts to less fortunate families.
Over 40 athletes from basketball, baseball, football, track, tennis, softball, golf, volleyball and soccer helped to make the holidays a little better for the families residing at Compassion Ministries. Each team collected money, shopped for and wrapped presents for its individual family. After delivering the gifts to the families, everyone gathered together for a visit from Santa, who happened to resemble Matt Sayman, a senior on the Baylor men's basketball team.
Each university in the Big 12 participates in Adopt an Angel as part of the CHAMPS/Life Skills program, which stresses academics, athletics, personal development, career development and service to student-athletes. The Student Athletic Advisory Committee, or SAAC, is a group of student-athletes who act as a liason between CHAMPS and other athletes. SAAC organizes events like Adopt an Angel so that all Baylor student-athletes have a chance to serve the community.
Melanie Smith is the CHAMPS/Life Skills coordinator for Baylor University.
"The amazing thing about these athletes," she said, "is that this is crunch time for them because they have practice and final exams, yet they find the time to collect money, go shopping and spend time with these families.
"It's just a selfless thing that they do, and we are lucky to have great coach support, too."
This is the second year that SAAC has chosen Compassion Ministries as the receiver of the Adopt an Angel program.
Compassion Ministries is a transitional home for struggling families who might be homeless without the six-month program that is designed to help them get back on their feet. The head of the family is required to have a full-time job within 30 days of entering the program. Based on a low nominal scale and their income, they must pay rent and utilities to Compassion. Upon graduation from the program, the family receives half of that money back to pay for rent and utility deposits on their new home.
Jill McCall, director of Compassion Ministries, explained that most of the families consist of single moms with children.
"We usually have single women and their children," she said, "and they all come from different backgrounds and situations. This is a very hard time in their life, and it is especially difficult to for them to have a nice Christmas for their children. These athletes make a world of difference."
Senior women's basketball player Jessika Stratton said that the faces are new from last year, which means that people are moving on and graduating from the program.
"It's encouraging for us to see that we are making their Christmas special," she said, "and that the gifts we give will always be with them."