The team's effort started after North Carolina alumnus and former player Kevin Reddick reached out and asked if there was anything the team could do to help his hometown of New Bern, N.C.
The players didn’t have much. They had their per diem — the $15 student athletes are given for food each day — that each player on the team donated to Reddick so he could buy supplies for his community. They also had a truck ... a really big truck.
“As we start to see all the devastation, it just became apparent to all of us we should try and do something to help,” said Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. “We have an equipment truck, and Larry was thinking, ‘What are the ways football can get involved?’ And so the truck was the first thing we thought of. It was the biggest thing we had.”
Tuesday was the first day of a weeklong effort to gather supplies, with plans to drive the loaded truck to Lumberton, N.C. on Saturday. The drive placed an emphasis on collecting bottled water, diapers, personal hygiene and sanitary products and non-perishable foods.
“We want to stress to people that they only bring things that are new,” said Employee Forum community service member Lein Soltan.
When asked if he wanted to serve as an ambassador for the state of North Carolina, Fedora downplayed his personal role.
“I’m the head coach of the Tar Heel football team and my responsibility is to take care of these guys,” Fedora said. “But when we have the opportunity to help others, we want to do that also because giving back to our community is extremely important to us.”
Fritts, however, highlighted the good that student-athletes can do by using their national platform to help others.
“It’s unique to be able to do this kind of stuff,” Fritts said. “It makes you see the bigger picture in things. You might have a bad day in football, but (after donating time) you see there are a lot worse problems in the world.”
The athletics department will continue its involvement in raising support for relief efforts, including collecting donations at the gate of the home football opener against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
For readers looking to get involved, a list of items being requested for the drive can be found here.
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