Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Saluki Athletics partners with police to provide coats for youth in Carbondale

Saluki+Athletics+partners+with+police+to+provide+coats+for+youth+in+Carbondale

The police department is teaming with Saluki Athletics to collect coats at all basketball games this winter. The donations will benefit local children ages 10 and under who are served by the Christmas store.

SIU Athletics

For 23 years, the Carbondale Police Department has hosted the Carbondale Community Christmas Store and Coats for Kids program to help families in need during the holiday season.

“Together we can make a difference for children in need in the Carbondale community,” Chief Stan Reno said in a press release. “The staff and police officers with the Department are proud to continue this initiative to help provide for the families of 150 children during the holiday season.”

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Michael Black, assistant athletic director for marketing at Saluki Athletics, said the tradition started with the football team in the late 2000s.

“Back in the day, football had done this as a charity drive in 2007 and 2008, and then basketball kind of revived it again in 2015,” Black said. “So it’s [the partnership] been going on for eight years…We team up with them to help collect coats in the area for their Christmas store and just give back to the community.”

The basketball games have been a helpful motivator, he said.

“We’ve already had donations as soon as we put out the boxes. A lot of people in this area [are] very giving, and being able to have kind of a public space where people are coming to the games anyway, we’re able to have that added incentive,” Black said.

The Carbondale Police Department will be accepting donations through Dec. 8, but Saluki Athletics will continue collecting donations at all men’s and women’s basketball games. For those unable to make it to a game, there are collection bins located at the ticket office in Banterra Center.

SIU’s upcoming collection dates are:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 6, women’s basketball vs. SIUE
  • Saturday, Dec. 9, women’s basketball vs. Saint Louis
  • Tuesday, Dec. 12, men’s basketball vs. Austin Peay
  • Sunday, Dec. 17, women’s basketball vs. Oklahoma State

“A lot of people do their last-minute Christmas shopping a day or two before, so it gives us a timeframe after that; a little bit of a buffer where people can still donate,” Black said.

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The athletic department will also be accepting donations on Monday, Dec. 18. Those who donate will receive a free ticket to the men’s game on Dec. 19 vs. North Dakota State.

“We are extremely happy with the support from SIU and look forward to continuing the partnership for future coat drives,” said Susie Toliver, Crime Victim Advocate and Program Coordinator.

Along with the coat drive, the Christmas store provides toys to “families in the Carbondale community who need some assistance for the holidays.”

Toliver said that any gift appropriate for the age range is accepted.

“Giving the community an opportunity to see the police department in a different way creates a bridge between the police and community,” she wrote in an email.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the program can contact Toliver at 618-457-3200 ext. 447. If other groups and organizations are interested in collecting coats, Black said they can bring those donations to the Banterra Center.

“There’s a sense of community when you’re coming to a sporting event, you know? Everyone is cheering for the same team,” Black said. “We’re all here and we’re all Salukis. If you can give back in a way and know that you’re helping another Saluki or family that’s less fortunate, it feels good. And that’s what being a Saluki is all about.”

Black said the athletic department is looking to host events with other organizations in the future.

“There’s different initiatives where we’re trying to get involved,” he said. “…We’re looking at trying to have a firefighters versus police [game] during halftime. Just little things like that. And as we do that, I feel like some of the community engagement pieces will naturally follow.”

The department is currently working with the SIU Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders to raise awareness.

“For our men’s basketball game versus Missouri State on Wednesday, January 31…we haven’t announced it yet, but it’s [going to be] an Autism Awareness game…That would be the first [time] we would do that, and…we’d like for that to [become] an annual tradition,” Black said.

 

Staff reporter Carly Gist can be reached at [email protected]

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