DECATUR -- On a day set aside for a spring football practice, Millikin University coaches decided to send the whole team out to perform community service.
“This is an opportunity for them to get out and see different parts of the community and give back,” said head coach Patrick Etherton. “The community supports our guys and this is one small thing we can do to give back to Decatur.”
Adam Rosner, a sophomore finance major from Tinley Park, was among a group of players and coaches that wielded shovels and rakes to beautify the grounds of Good Samaritan Inn, the soup kitchen at 920 N. Union St.
“It gives you a good feeling to give back to the community,” said Rosner, who plays defensive end for the Big Blue and aspires to become a lawyer.
Wide receiver Brady Cufaude helped build a base out of gravel and dirt for the tall wooden cross that graces the grounds, as well as patching the lawn with sod.
The sophomore from Pekin said he probably would have caught up on his sleep Saturday morning if he hadn't helped with the beautification project.
Assistant football coach Pat Allgeier said the players weren't afraid to work. They were slated to work three hours, but finished about 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
“It's a great opportunity to show we're part of the community,” Allgeier said. “We want to support the community and the community to support us.”
Assistant coach Tom O'Donnell said players sometimes volunteer at the soup kitchen during the year, but this is the first event in recent memory in which all the players were involved in a community project.
“It's important for them to come out and volunteer,” he said.
In addition to their efforts at Good Samaritan, players and coaches also helped clean up Nelson and Fairview parks Saturday. About 70 players and eight coaches participated.
Good Samaritan staff member Mark Jones helped supervise the players' work.
“They did an awesome job,” Jones said.