Purple Knights’ toy drive helps the Cardinal Shehan Center deliver holiday cheer for kids in need
University of Bridgeport (UB) athletics teams have made sure that area youngsters have a joyful holiday this year by collecting sparkling new toys for needy children in Fairfield County.
The student-athletes collected close to 100 games, trucks, puzzles, and stuffed animals at UB men’s and women’s home basketball games in early December. They later delivered the toys to the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport in advance of the non-profit’s annual Christmas party on Saturday, December 16.
The Shehan Center serves 4,500 low-income young people in lower Fairfield County annually through various recreational/sports, social, and educational programs.
“Our department as a whole thought it would be important to give back to the community; everyone pitched in,” said UB Assistant Athletics Director Sara Richwine. “We chose the Shehan Center because it serves kids of all ages through many different programs.”
Cardinal Shehan Center Executive Director Terry O’Connor said, “We’re very grateful to UB, its students, and the coaches who got involved. This year, we’re giving out gifts to over 200 youngsters, and each one will get three, four, or five toys that are age- and gender-appropriate.”
Gymnast Kelly Tereshko, 21, and her teammates wanted to help Cardinal Shehan collect enough presents so no child would go wanting, she said. The team bought 21 toys – one from each athlete – instead of buying secret Santa gifts for each other.
“I can’t even imagine if I were younger and didn’t get anything for Christmas. That’s why we did this; we want the Bridgeport community to have a really good Christmas,” said Tereshko.
The toy drive capped off a semester of giving by the Purple Knights. In the past three months, UB student-athletes tutored students at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport, hosted a safe “Trunk or Treat” Halloween party for area children, ran free after-school sports clinics at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, and participated in other outreach campaigns.
“UB student-athletes are aware that, even in Connecticut, there’s still a great need. You’ll find them giving back throughout the year,” said UB Director of Athletics Anthony Vitti. “That’s what makes them champions; they take their team spirit into the community. We’re proud of them.”
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