UNC field hockey team reaches homeless

UNC field hockey player Meghan Lyons organized the project.

Winning a national championship is difficult to top, but the North Carolina women’s field hockey team also had success off the field this summer.

In addition to teaching the fundamentals of field hockey, the team educated summer campers about sun safety and set up locations in Carmichael Residence Hall for them to donate bottles of sunscreen.

Organized by redshirt freshman forward Meghan Lyons and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the project collected more than 200 bottles of sunscreen, which were donated to the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service.

Debra Vestal, a volunteer at IFC’s Community House on Rosemary Street who helped Lyons with the effort, believes enough bottles remain to last through the field hockey season this fall.

“We’ve been able to provide a full bottle to each resident thus far,” Vestal said. “We even had enough to donate to homeless women and children in association with the Homestart program.”

The IFC, which provides shelter for the homeless, said sunscreen is desperately needed because recipients often spend long hours exposed to the sun.

“We were overwhelmed when Meghan approached us about the project because it’s not in our budget,” Vestal said. “The people we work with have limited resources and sunscreen doesn’t always make their list of things to purchase.”

Lyons hopes the partnership with Lineberger will become an annual service project. She plans to promote the effort, which was inspired by USA Field Hockey’s Sun Safe Play! campaign, in next year’s camp brochure.

Dana Gelin, associate director of athletic communications at UNC, assisted Lyons with organizing the sunscreen project and shares her ambition in making the sun safety project a staple of field hockey’s annual summer camp.

Xan Funk, a member of the 2007 national championship team, will also help Lyons explore future community service opportunities. The team already volunteers annually with the Adopt-a-Highway program.

“We want to be the catalyst for community activity,” Lyons said. “Coach (Karen) Shelton emphasizes long-term commitment to success in the rest of our lives just as much as how we perform on the field.”

Along with raising awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, the team hopes the project will translate into success this season.

“This gave us a great chance to build team unity for the upcoming year,” Lyons said. “I think campers were shocked by how much you can affect other people’s lives through a project like this.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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