Coastal Carolina University student athletes know how devastating a flood can be.
That’s why a group of athletes from the university are collecting cleaning supplies, water and canned goods to take to Lafayette, Louisiana, where flooding has devastated the community and much of the surrounding area.
“With the floods that we experienced here in Myrtle Beach last year, we all know and understand the effects a flood can have on not only our personal lives but also our professional lives,” said Cari Rosiek, an Associate Athletics Director at the university.
Flooding in Southern Louisiana began in August when a stationary storm dumped more than two feet of water in some areas, with peak rainfall in some locations estimated to be as high as 31 inches. In many parts of Southern Louisiana, residents are still displaced from their houses.
When Rosiek realized the extent of the damage to the area, she suggested that the university begin collecting supplies for the victims of the flooding, and she felt that student athletes should get involved. Knowing that a fellow Sun Belt Conference member, the University of Louisiana Lafayette, was in the area affected, she was even more convinced that it was the right thing to do.
“We have a mission within our Department of Athletics to not only strive for excellence in academics and athletics, but also within our community,” Rosiek said. “This project seemed like one we could do very quickly and create an impact immediately with the people of Lafayette.”
Coastal Women’s Lacrosse player and senior Jenna Stover heard about the project and knew that it was something she wanted to help organize.
“I jumped on board because I think it’s a great idea to help out with cleaning supplies,” Stover said.
Many people will donate food or clothes when disaster strikes, but cleaning supplies aren’t always high on that list even though they are badly needed, Stover pointed out.
“Maybe they don’t have time to go out and buy these cleaning supplies, and it can get costly,” she said.
So Stover worked with Rosiek to help organize the cleaning supply drive.
Stover, along with other student athletes and staff members, began collecting supplies in preparation for a big push that started Thursday morning.
“We’re having a Day of Giving today from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.,” Stover said Thursday morning.
And while their drop-in drive is over for the day, they are still collecting supplies.
According to Rosiek, collection will continue until the time of kickoff for Saturday’s football game at 7 p.m. Donations will also be taken at the soccer game and CCU Cross Country Invite, both on Friday, or at any time at Arcadia Hall on the campus of the university.
Monetary donations can also be given at www.goccusports.com.
A list of items that are most needed is also on the website.
“Anyone can contact me if they have questions,” Rosiek said. “We are grateful for any and all donations we can get.”
Rosiek said that people can contact her by telephone at (843) 349-4126 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A personal connection
Amy Haggard is an administrator in Coastal Carolina University’s Psychology and Sociology Department.
But a handful of years ago, Haggard was a soccer player at Coastal who had teammates from the area of Louisiana that is currently affected by flooding. Because of that, she dropped off paper towels and other supplies Thursday morning.
“It affects me,” Haggard said. “I played soccer with some girls here who are from the area, so I knew it would be a good opportunity to give back.”
That same willingness to help is something Rosiek said was instilled in her when she played softball at Coastal.
“When I came here in 1995 it was instilled in me that part of being a Chanticleer was to give back,” Rosiek said. “To be a part of it in a professional manner today, many years later, with these student athletes is a heartwarming experience.”
Rosiek noted that the social media response from Coastal alumni has been great as well, with former Coastal students from across the country sending monetary donations to help out.
It isn’t just alumni or people from far away who are getting involved, either.
Ty Anthony, executive vice president at Lewis Truck Lines, offered his company’s support as well.
“We have to give big props to Lewis Truck Lines, because they’re donating the trailer, the driver, and the entire detail to get this product to Lafayette,” Rosiek said.
“We are very excited that Coastal asked us to participate,” Anthony said.
LeRoy and Dianne LeMaster, owners of Lewis Truck LInes, are big Coastal supporters.
The opportunity to help people who have been affected by the flooding was something Anthony and Lewis Truck Lines couldn’t pass up.
“We deliver loads down there on a weekly basis so we’re able to assist people there, and we’re grateful they asked us to be able to assist those in need,” Anthony said. “It allows us to be able to give back, as well.”
A personal delivery
Once the cleaning supplies and other donations have been collected, they will be delivered to the United Way of Acadiana, which serves the St. Martinville and Vermilion Parishes in the Lafayette area.
The President of the United Way of Acadiana, Margaret Trahan, is grateful for the aid.
“This is an amazing effort on the part of student athletes at CCU,” she said. “We are so grateful to them for this truly significant gesture of solidarity with those who have endured the devastating floods in Louisiana.
“We may be competitors on fields of play, but we are brothers united by a common understanding of human need,” she continued.
According to Trahan, thousands of homes in the Acadiana region were affected by the floods.
“Over 17,000 households in the Acadiana region alone were impacted by the floods,” she said. “Many homes have already been gutted, thanks to willing hands and the donated supplies to make this possible.”
There’s still more to be done, though.
“There are thousands more households in Louisiana in need,” Trahan said. “Supplies from CCU will aid in the cleanup process that is now underway.”
When the truck gets to Lafayette, representatives from Coastal will be there to help distribute the supplies to those in need.
“The truck is going to leave on Sunday to drive to Louisiana,” Stover said. “We’re going to fly out Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. and hand it out personally.”
Rosiek said that the university will be sending her, six to eight student athletes and another administrator to Louisiana so that they can see the people who need the supplies face to face.
While it will be a short trip – the students and staff will be back Wednesday for classes – it should be impactful.
“My ultimate hope is that when we arrive in Lafayette, for these student athletes to get the hands-on experience, to meet the people they’re going to assist,” Rosiek said. “I think that’s going to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their entire career here while they’re at Coastal.”