All for a cause

Gaels take on many charitable initiatives

The cross country and track teams have raised donations for Martha’s Table and are looking to take on more initiatives, including this weekend’s CIBC Run for the Cure.
The cross country and track teams have raised donations for Martha’s Table and are looking to take on more initiatives, including this weekend’s CIBC Run for the Cure.

If there’s a group of carolers on your doorstep this year, it might just be the cross country team.

For more than 15 years, the Gaels squad has sung Christmas carols to raise donations for Martha’s Table, a Kingston-based non-profit organization that serves nutritious low-cost meals to those in need.

One night each winter, the team splits into groups of four, who dress up and sing carols on the front porches of houses off-campus. The carolers have been visiting the same neighbourhoods for years.

Team captain Evan Andrin has served meals as a Martha’s Table volunteer in the past, and said he became excited with the project after joining the Gaels last season.

“We take [song] requests, which is pretty fun,” he said. “I really like monetary donations as opposed to food because I think they can use that money better than other people can buying in bulk.”

With another year of CIS eligibility after this season, Andrin said he’ll look to get the team more involved in the coming months. This includes joining other athletes to participate in CIBC’s Run for the Cure in support of breast cancer research, education and awareness.

“I personally am pretty involved with these volunteer initiatives,” Andrin said. “Since my election as captain, I’ve been trying to push the team to that direction.”

Besides Andrin, head coach Steve Boyd and co-captain Julie-Anne Staehli are committed to these charitable endeavours.

For the past two years, Staehli has worked with the Varsity Leadership Council, a group of student-athletes that helps build relations in both Queen’s and Kingston communities.

“Our coach Steve Boyd is also a big advocate for social participation and being a bigger presence both within the university and in the Kingston community in general,” Andrin said.

Boyd said he supports the caroling and sees positive outcomes from undertaking charitable activities.

“Heading out on a cold night in December and singing to strangers for money takes some real commitment and team camaraderie,” Boyd told the Journal via email. “It’s therefore great for the team as well as Martha’s Table.”

He said the initiatives spearheaded by Andrin and Staehli may develop into team traditions that continue after the athletes graduate.

“This is what good captains do: they create team legacies,” Boyd said.

Another event that’s important to many Gaels is CIBC’s Run for the Cure. This year’s event is on Sunday and will feature several teams made up of athletes, students and staff.

Last year, the men’s rugby team raised $38,775.39 for the campaign. Days away from this year’s race, they’re up to $23,000.

Fifth-year flanker Brendan Sloan said the rugby team has taken part in the event for several years.

“As long as I’ve been here, it’s been our main community initiative,” Sloan said. “The boys really get behind it and we raise a lot of money every year.”

While the coaches take part by donating money, raising the funds is a player-led endeavor throughout all levels of the rugby club system.

“We have close to 200 guys in the club right now, and it’s mandatory for each one of them to register,” Sloan said.

Much of the money is raised by soliciting family and friends, in person or through social media. Some players also go door-to-door seeking sponsorship.

Much like how caroling has brought the cross country team closer together, Sloan said the Run for the Cure event is an effective team building exercise for men’s rugby.

“It’s something that brings us all together for a common cause,” he said.

It’s not the only cause the men have gotten behind.

This year, the squad also teamed up with Soul Food, a student-run organization that delivers unconsumed food from campus cafeterias to Kingston shelters. Members of the team handle deliveries every Wednesday night.

They’ve also recently gotten involved with the White Ribbon campaign, a group that asks men to pledge never to commit or condone violence against women and girls.

The team has been involved with bringing a White Ribbon seminar to Queen’s in November, Sloan said.

“It’s definitely something that all the boys really back,” he said. “It’s very important to us.”

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