In the heat of a June afternoon, members of the University of Mary Washington rugby team took a break from summer vacation to give back to the community.
Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the UMW rugby logo, they hoisted large back trash bags from a pick-up truck two or three at a time and delivered them to Micah Ecumenical Ministries in downtown Fredericksburg.
Misty Lozano of Micah Ecumenical Ministries accepted the bags – full of donated clothing for those the non-profit organization helps – with a smile and hugs for the UMW students.
“You are incredible,” she said. “Thank you!”
For the rugby players, the donation was just one small way to make a difference to their community.
“I found an overwhelming sense that people wanted to help and they really wanted to do as much good as they could,” said senior Redmond Manierre.
The 60- to 70-member club team, known as the “Mothers” after the university’s namesake, emphasizes volunteering and service, as evident in the requirement that each player participate in at least one community service project each semester.
“We encourage them to do community service and to reach out to the community,” said Director of Rugby Tim Brown.
Most players surpass the minimum requirement and look for additional ways to give back, Brown said. In fact, the team came up with the idea for a clothing drive after noticing how much goes to waste at the end of the school year. The players went door-to-door in residence halls at the end of the spring 2012 semester to collect clothing, some items with tags still attached.
The Mothers have made a name for themselves on the field, most recently as the winners of the Cherry Blossom Tournament in Washington, D.C., a two-day competition that features top rugby teams from across the country.
The club rugby team, awarded UMW’s inaugural Sports Club Service Award in 2012, also donates its old uniforms and equipment to rugby programs as far away as Africa and as close as Northern Virginia. Many students also partner with high school players as “big brothers.”
“I’ve seen that a lot of people nowadays really need our help,” senior Safwaan Islam said of his experience with the clothing drive and other service activities. “Living in college we don’t really see that, but once you step outside into the real world, you see many people that really need our help…I think if everyone participates it could make a really big difference.”