CIAA & Other Charlotte Non-Profits Partnering To Donate Over 70,000 Shoes To Bahamian Relief

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The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) today announced that it is expanding its support of Samaritan’s Feet, a non-profit organization that inspires hope through the gift of shoes to underserved families.  Working in partnership with Van Wagner Sports and the Charlotte Chapter of the Crown Jewels Links, the organization has pledged to provide 70,000 pairs of shoes to hurricane survivors as part of its Bahamian disaster relief efforts.

The shoes and socks collected will be distributed to the citizens of the Bahamas who were devastated by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.  The partners sent an initial shipment of shoes to the island in December and all three companies have committed additional resources to achieve their philanthropic goal.

“We are extremely proud to support Samaritan’s Feet through our partnership with Van Wagner and the Crown Jewels Links,” said Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams.  “The CIAA leadership understands the role that college sports, especially HBCUs, can and should play in changing the world.  We do our best to lead by example through community service initiatives. It is my hope that student-athletes and coaches throughout the conference will be inspired to support Samaritan’s Feet and to donate shoes and socks to help the less fortunate.”

Van Wagner Sports stressed the importance of the partnership and its commitment to the humanitarian endeavor.

“We are inspired by the CIAA and their continued support of the community,” said Mike Palisi, Executive Vice President of Van Wagner Sports.  “We are pleased to join them in this critical work.”

Sharon H. Matthews, President of the Crown Jewels Links NC Chapter, echoed the sentiment.

“Our members are excited to partner with the CIAA to assist our international community, “said           Ms. Matthews. “An important part of our mission is to support global programs designed to service the educational, health and cultural needs of people of African descent throughout the world.  This collaboration certainly helps us to achieve our goal.”

Led by Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, who serves on the board of Samaritan’s Feet, the CIAA has been an influential advocate and champion of the non-profit organization for over 12 years. Since 2015, along with corporate partner Coca-Cola Consolidated, they have provided shoes and socks to over 3500 children in the Charlotte community during tournament week.  In 2019, 800 pairs of shoes and socks were distributed to Charlotte families with the assistance of over forty volunteers.

In addition, Virginia Union’s student-athletes spurred by their volunteer experience last year, sponsored their own fund-raising drive to distribute 300 pairs of socks and shoes to a local Petersburg, VA elementary school.  This year, VUU will team with Virginia State student-athletes to raise $20,000 for a joint distribution in Richmond, VA.  For their leadership and work exemplifying the Division II community engagement philosophy, the National Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee presented VUU the NCAA DII Award of Excellence earlier this year.

“We’ve seen epic growth in activations and student engagement from our partnership with the CIAA,” said Manny Ohonme, President and CEO of Samaritan’s Feet. “As the CIAA fosters their rich service -leadership culture, Samaritan’s Feet is honored to work closely with the Commissioner, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC,) and student-athletes to encourage others to give the gift of shoes to those in need and help us fulfill the vision of a world where all children have shoes.”

In Charlotte, the Samaritan’s Feet distribution will be held on Friday, February 28th during the 2020 CIAA Basketball Championship and Tournament. To find out more about Samaritan’s Feet and its upcoming events and to donate shoes during the 75th annual CIAA Basketball Tournament visit www.SamaritansFeet.org.

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