In addition to making sandwiches for bag lunches for homeless people in April, Cheyney football players also wrote short, positive notes of encouragement for the recipients as part of the #Hashtag Lunchbag program.
“They had a couple of different things you could write, but coach let us have a little freedom with it,” sophomore linebacker Keyson Dingle said. “I wrote ‘Stay blessed’ on mine. I thought that was an appropriate thing to write.”
#Hashtag Lunchbag was started three years ago by a group of friends in Los Angeles who wanted to give back during the holidays. The grassroots initiative has quickly grown to more than 100 cities and led to the formation of the Living Through Giving Foundation.
Cheyney got involved with #Hashtag Lunchbag for the first time this year through assistant coach Lorell McCook’s wife, Lashundra, who was already involved in the program. About 20 players participated in the event, which was held about an hour from Cheyney, in Philadelphia.
“It was a great experience for us,” Cheyney interim head coach Chris Roulhac said. “Mrs. McCook said that normally it takes them several hours to make the sandwiches, but because there were so many guys, we were able to do it in a shorter amount of time and make a whole lot more sandwiches.”
The players were touched by the experience of giving back to the community in such an uplifting manner.
“To see the happiness and the relief of having a meal for that day kind of made a special feeling inside your body,” sophomore quarterback Dominick Trautz said. “It also brought us together as a team, because we knew we were doing something greater – not for ourselves but for the people of our city. It was something I wish everybody could experience. If somebody asked me to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Dingle also said seeing the faces of the people who received the lunches really put things in perspective for him.
“It was an amazing experience to be able to actually give them the sandwiches and see how much they appreciated it,” he said. “It really showed me how fortunate we are as college football players. It was good to experience that with my teammates.”
Roulhac was happy to see his players react to the project with such enthusiasm.
“It was great for the players to feel like they were giving back to the community,” Roulhac said. “Our players were really in awe that people would be so thankful and so grateful for a sandwich; it’s something we kind of take for granted about food.
These are obviously people who are down on their luck. Just to give them that sandwich and for them to feel like, wow, somebody really does care about them (was amazing).”
In addition to the other community service projects the team does each year, #Hashtag Lunchbag is something that will become an annual tradition for the Wolves.
“No question,” Roulhac said. “We’ll do it again in the spring. This is going to be part of our community service where we give back to the community and do something nice. We go to the schools and read to the kids. In the past, we did a physical fitness thing where we have different games in the school yard with the kids.”
Well done, #CUWolves.