Centralia College athletes played Santa to children in the college’s ECEAP* preschool and daycare programs earlier this week.
The Sports Programs Office had been collecting $1 donations at games and across campus to buy fleece blankets for each child in a Centralia College preschool class and the campus daycare center. So far, 164 blankets have been distributed by members of all seven Centralia College sports teams to the campus preschool classes and the daycare center.
The blanket drive was sparked by the men’s basketball team’s participation in the Blazer Buddies reading program this quarter. Players have been regularly visiting the classrooms to read to children, but they wanted to do more.
The children were thrilled with the unexpected gifts from their favorite athletes.
“The kids grabbed onto the blankets, held them tight, and wouldn’t let them go,” said Debbie Topel, family support specialist for ECEAP. “It was precious. The athletes have been amazing with our kids. I have so many stories!”
Plans are in the works to keep the project going into spring quarter, possibly with a book drive. In addition, other teams are joining the Blazer Buddies reading program.
To donate, contact the Centralia College Athletics Office at 360-736-9391, ext. 345, or stop by the Michael Smith Gymnasium, room 119, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
*The Early Childhood Education and Assistance (ECEAP) program provides free preschool classes to low-income children. There are 230 children currently enrolled in Centralia College’s ECEAP preschools.