Dec. 4, 2007

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has kept quite busy this past semester, pitching in around the community and helping spread cheer during several holiday events.

One project that will continue throughout the school year is the Adopt-A-Highway project in conjunction with the Maryland State Highway Administration. As part of the NCAA's CHAMPS (Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success) initiative for community service UMES is helping to keep the highway's near Princess Anne clean and beautiful. The Highway Administration reports that every year, tens of thousands of visitors travel our highways enjoying our scenery, our people and our places of interest. Unfortunately they are often treated to the sight of trash and waste along the roadside. These thoughtless acts of littering also cost the State $5 million every year to pick up after them.

This year Dr. Danita Townsend, Director of CHAMPS/Life Skills at the University, elected to have the teams "Adopt-A-Highway". The purpose of the "Adopt-A-Highway" program is to control and decrease liter on the State's highways at a reduced cost to the State. For this purpose, private citizens are given the opportunity to support the State's anti-liter programs by adopting a section of the highway along which volunteers will pick up trash and debris to keep the roadways clean. Each month a different team goes together and picks-up litter along the interstate. So far this year, the Men's Basketball, Baseball and the Men's/Women's Track & Field teams have participated.

"This project has proven that the department as well as our student-athletes appreciates their community. Not only do we support the purpose of "Adopt-A-Highway" but also the overall action of taking time to give back," said Townsend.

The SAAC also participated in the UMES Child and Family Development Center's (CFDC) Halloween parade and trick-or-treating event. Townsend and the athletes decorated the Department of Athletics in Halloween paraphernalia, passed out candy and helped lead the youth of the CFDC.

The group also helped out with the Seagull Century bicycle race earlier in the year. There were over 2.000 riders pass through UMES and they were greeted by members of the Women's Bowling and Women's Basketball teams who helped direct traffic and hand out supplies.

More recently the Baseball team at UMES got in the holiday spirit. They assisted with Operation Teddy Bear, a local event sponsored by Perdue Farms and held at the Holly Center in Salisbury, Md. The Baseball team assisted with the developmentally disabled residents, helping to load them into eighteen-wheeler truck cabs. The Perdue trucks are decorated for the holiday season and the drivers give the residents rides to kick off the holiday season for the Holly Center.

"Our kids are doing tons of non-athletic and academic projects out in the community and need to be recognized for their altruistic endeavors," added Townsend. "We want our student athletes to not only be good students and be good athletes, but to be good citizens as well."

So keep an eye out for the maroon and grey in the local community, helping to better the community they call home.



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