ABINGTON, Pa. — Members of the Penn State Abington Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) continued their annual tradition of collaborating with the Breathing Room Foundation to purchase gifts for a family struggling with cancer. This year, they “adopted” a family from Jamaica whose young son is being treated at an area hospital and wrapped their gifts during a party in the Athletic Building.
More than three dozen SAAC student athletes, led by senior volleyball player Taylor LaPage, collected money from their teammates to buy gifts and personal and household items. Coaches participated, too, including Jim McClernand, the head men’s and women’s cross-country coach who raised $800 for the cause.
“We bought a variety of gifts for the family including toys, winter clothing, blankets, cleaning products, sanitary items, and gift cards,” LaPage said.
The family of four, which includes 3- and 6-year-old boys, will receive about 150 items.
“We have been working with the Breathing Room Foundation for more than seven years so adopting a family has become a tradition for SAAC community service. They send us information on the family, their interests, needs, and a little back story on why they need our assistance,” LaPage said.
The foundation, which is based in Abington, supports families and individuals affected by cancer by addressing their needs outside the clinical setting so they can focus on regaining their physical health.
“The Breathing Room’s Adopt a Family program is extremely important to us as many of us have been affected by cancer in one way or another. This organization allows us to give back to a family who is struggling and take some of that stress away during the holidays and give them a Christmas they deserve,” LaPage said.
LaPage, a psychological and social sciences major, wants SAAC to tackle more projects like the partnership with the Breathing Room Foundation to boost their connections with the community and give back to the campus and area residents.
“The mission of SAAC is to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete well-being and fostering a positive student-athlete image to the campus and community. We do this through the legislative process, community involvement, and team building activities,” LaPage, who represents Abington athletics in the United East Conference SAAC, said.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.