Athletes Helping Students event aims to collect school supplies for St. Paul kids

The Concordia St. Paul, Macalester and Rip City men’s basketball teams led an effort to collect supplies for St. Paul families in need in June.

Upon the conclusion of that successful event, Concordia St. Paul coach Matt Fletcher, Macalester coach Abe Woldeslassie and Rip City basketball operators Peter and Kenny Olafeso said, “Hey, we’ve got to do more.”

“We knew we wanted to do something more, we didn’t know what it was going to look like,” Woldeslassie said. “People in general want to help, they just don’t know how to do it. They need an avenue.”

More will come this weekend. The groups are joining forces again Saturday for the Athletes Helping Students drive at Sea Foam Stadium at Concordia University in St. Paul from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to collect school items that will go to elementary, middle school and high school students in St. Paul. Anyone is welcome to stop by during that time slot to donate items including pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, notebooks, folders, crayons, colored pencils, markers and rulers. Cash donations also will be accepted.

Woldeslassie noted those supplies often are shared in classrooms, which is discouraged in the age of COVID-19. The hope for this event is to collect enough items that kids in need can have them without teachers having to reach into their personal wallets.

Last time around, the local college athletes helping run the event were thrilled to give back, and Woldeslassie can sense their appetite to do more.

“As coaches, we’ve got a platform and we’ve got to use it,” he said. “Athletes, I think sometimes you might look at the headlines and maybe it’s not always the best things where athletes are highlighted. We’re trying to showcase that, man, our athletes are really doing good work, and they should be commended for it.”

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