Notre Dame football: Irish take time to give back
With no classes scheduled and a rare chance to sleep in thrown his way, Crist instead piled in a bus with 15 of his Irish football teammates and ND's football intern for player development David Grimes and headed out to make a difference.
Not that he didn't have a little fun along the way.
Crist and the Irish pitched in at the Hope Ministries Family Life Center on South Lafayette Boulevard on Wednesday getting the facility ready for the expected 900 people the organization will serve Thanksgiving dinner to on Thursday and helping prepare food for delivery for 500 others who cant make it.
"We serve dinner to anyone off the streets who doesn't have a place to go for Thanksgiving," said Emily Jensen, Hope Ministries volunteer coordinator.
Crist took on some coordinating duties as well - and critiquing - as he and several of his teammates scooped cranberry sauce into individually portioned containers.
"We've got a proven system," he said, sounding a bit like coach Brian Kelly in one of his press conferences.
"We've got to take one cranberry container at a time. You can't look past any of them. Every cranberry container is just as important as the next.
"Who's the best cranberry packer? It's definitely not Darius (Fleming). The problem is its difficult to evaluate, because there are different techniques. Mike (Golic) is going with the hack approach. I'm doing a casual slide-in. Ethan Johnson is like a silent assassin - you're not really sure what he's doing over there.
"We-re going to move to no-huddle, sonic tempo right now. We're trying to move fast and not let any of the cranberry containers know what we're doing."
The idea to volunteer came about when Grimes was looking for opportunities for the team to connect with the community and found Jensen and the Hope Ministries.
"This is a great place, a residence for homeless people," Grimes said. "What better time to give back to the community than at Thanksgiving? When I asked for volunteers, it was easy to fill the bus."
Freshmen Everett Golson, Ishaq Williams, Brad Carrico, Josh Atkinson, George Atkinson III and Ben Councell also joined in, as did Danny Spond, Brandon Newman, Bruce Heggie, Kona Schwenke, Hafis Williams and walk-on Joe Romano.
"This is great," Ishaq Williams said. "I know how great it feels when I can be with my family. It feels good to try to bring that kind of happiness to someone else."
Newman, a senior nose guard, went out of his way to create that feeling. At the end of their time at the center, the players wrote cards to the people who were going to be having their meals delivered on Thursday.
Newman, for one, wrote a different message on each card, wanting them to feel special.
"This was a great experience for all of us," Crist said. "I know how special this holiday is for me and my family. For some people, the reality is that they spend Thanksgiving either alone or at a time where they;re going through some struggles.
"A lot of people here don't have housing and things like that. For my family and my teammates, we have so much to be thankful for. We just want to share that with other people."
Staff writer Eric Hansen: