Dec. 16, 2008
By BRITTANY PAGE
SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
December 16, 2008
In the spirit of the season, the UCSB men's and women's basketball teams got the giving feeling providing 52 underprivileged children with shopping sprees at Kmart in Goleta as part of the "Gauchos Give" community outreach program.
"This is a great opportunity for our basketball programs to give back to a community that gives so much to us," UCSB men's head coach Bob Williams said. "Anytime we have a chance to positively affect the lives of kids, we need to."
The children, selected from the Page Youth Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara and Goleta, were given a $100.00 gift certificate to spend on whatever they so desired and were escorted by players who pushed the karts around and helped them choose their toys.
"Its a win, win situation," Williams said. "Its great for the people in the community and for our players to enhance a young child's holiday season."
Smiles of both the athletes and children filled the Kmart aisles and the jolly feeling was contagious as their is no better joy than seeing a child happy.
"We want our teams to get out and give back to a community that gives so much to us and also educate our student-athletes that there is something bigger out there," Gaucho women's head coach Lindsey Gottlieb said.
"Coach Williams and I care about wins and losses but more importantly we care about the players being great people and role models for younger children."
The looks on the children's faces gave away the excitement and appreciation they felt about being able to pick something out that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.
"I have always loved kids, I always want to do as much for them as I can," Gaucho freshman guard Will Brew said. "We just got what they wanted and more, I'm trying to get them a little bit more because anything I can do to help is an honor to me."
Brew spent money out of his own pocket in order to get the children a little bit more than they would have been able to get with the hundred dollars.
Other players like Brew got more into the giving spirit as junior forward Jesse Byrd also spent money from his own piggy bank to give the kids a little bit more as well. The children Byrd accompanied purchased a Playstation III, but the junior wasn't satisfied with them just getting that, you can't play the gaming system without a second controller and a game according to him, so he chipped in for those items.
"I just want them to have a Merry Christmas that's all," Byrd said. "It makes me feel great to do stuff like this and I'm glad we get a chance to do something good as a team."
A grandmother of one of the children selected thanked assistant coach Brad Holland over and over again for taking part and putting on the event. The woman's son is serving the country in Iraq and the "Baskets of Fun" event allows her grandchildren to pick something out for their father which they will send to him for the holiday's.
This was just one of many stories that touched the players and coach's, making them feel that their efforts were not only appreciated by the kids but by everyone who partook in the event.
"It's a great way for us to give back to the community because they are all so supportive of us and the men's team," junior center Jessie Goble said. "I am excited and our whole team is too, we love helping out especially when we can help children."
In addition to the hundred dollars, each child and their families received tickets to the Jan. 2 women's basketball game against Long Beach State and the Jan. 10 men's game against Cal State Fullerton.