In college, every spring our coaches would reach out to area churches to create a list of widowers and elderly folks in the community who needed help with some very basic lawn/home care like raking leaves, cleaning out gutters etc. Also on the list would be various service projects in the community like picking up trash along streets/highways, touch up painting park benches and other small projects. After they compiled the list of projects, they would pick a Saturday in the spring to complete the project.A few months before the actual Saturday when we completed the projects, Coach would have a team meeting where all of the athletes were instructed to bring with them 10 home addresses of friends and family members. During the team meeting, each player hand wrote 5 letters to send to 5 of the addresses, and Coach had a form letter to mail to the other 5 addresses. The form letter read something like this:
On Saturday, April 23rd our football team will be completing 5 hours of community service for elderly couples and widowers in our community. We will be raking leaves, cleaning out gutters, cutting grass, painting, and doing other various chores that these people are unable to do on their own. We will also be taking on service projects in the community like picking up trash along the city streets.
Although we will be doing these chores at NO COST to any of our community members, we would like to use this opportunity to raise funds so that our football team can buy some of the extra equipment we have need of. Would you partner with our team by sponsoring me at an hourly rate as we perform these services?
Example: $5 X 5 hours = $25
Thank you for your support of our team.
After each athlete hand wrote 5 letters and the 5 form letters were addressed, these letters were mailed out all across the country. Over the next few months, checks would come in from all over the country and we would raise significant funds while waiting for the Spring Clean-Up day to arrive.
On the day of the Spring Clean Up, we would break into teams of 5-10 people to go complete the service projects. Coach was deliberate about forming the groups so that they were as diverse as possible. This was so that players got to serve with others who they might not normally interact with. After working all morning, we would meet at a local park and have a big team BBQ.
In the eyes of the community, this was a very positive thing. The people who were served were overwhelmed with gratitude, and everyone else in the community were inspired to see influential college athletes serving others. This always created great team-cohesion because it served as a strong group-relational strategy.