SAAC holds toiletry drive

Proceeds are donated to local homeless shelters

By Aaron Bocook, Staff Writer

At their Big Sky Conference meeting July 21 to 23, members of Eastern’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC, came back to campus with a mission: to gather toiletries.

“We decided in our committee that a toiletry drive would be a great idea, especially for athletes,” said Melissa Williams, a senior on EWU’s women’s basketball team and Eastern’s SAAC president. “As athletes, when we go on the road, we can get all those hotel toiletries and bring them back with us. So, it’s an easy way for us to donate something and easy for us to participate [in].”

Williams said SAAC is a national organization and is required for all NCAA schools, not just the Big Sky Conference.

According to the NCAA website, SAAC is an opportunity for student athletes to have a voice in the NCAA at the campus, conference and national level. Williams said committee sizes vary from school to school but the goal at Eastern is to have two representatives from each sports teams on campus.

Hayley Hodges, an EWU graduate student and a teammate of Williams, said the Women’s basketball team is fairly big and needed more representation so she took the initiative to join SAAC.

“I kind of just voted myself in,” Hodges said. “I talked to my coach, and I talked to [Williams], and we didn’t have another representative for women’s basketball, and I thought we needed one.”

When Williams and Hodges returned from Sacramento, they announced to the other EWU teams’ SAAC representatives that this year they would be in a competition against other Big Sky schools in a toiletry drive.

Throughout the year, Williams said a monthly average is taken from each university based on the number of active student athletes, and the tally of toiletry items collected. The team that comes out on top by the end of the 2014-2015 school year takes home the SAAC Cup. At the end of each month, the items gathered will be donated to local homeless shelters.

The toiletry drive started Sept. 15, just over a week before classes started at EWU this fall.

Hodges said EWU started about two weeks later than most Big Sky Conference schools due to being on the quarter system rather than the semester system, but will also get to go two weeks longer at the end of the year.

Williams and Hodges said the drive is a friendly competition that has more to do with logging volunteer hours for each school’s SAAC program than actually winning.

Williams said here has been a lot of support from the school. Assistant athletic director Joel Vickery spread the word throughout EWU administration, and asked coaches to tell their teams, families and friends to get involved.  Also, she said the bookstore will be soliciting  a “round-up,” students will be asked if they would like to round up their purchase total to the next dollar amount to be used to purchase toiletries by SAAC members.

Hodges said SAAC is in the process of making a video for the drive which will be shown on video boards at all EWU sporting events.

Aside from unused complimentary toiletries furnished by hotels, Williams said once the women’s basketball team starts traveling, they plan to call ahead to the hotels where they will be staying, asking if they would like to donate to the drive.

“We’re a little behind, because the other schools that have semesters got kind of a jump on us, Williams said. “We would love more student participation.”

Hodges said there is a drop box in the student athletic office, located upstairs in the P.E. Classroom Building. Items that are being collected include unopened shampoo and conditioner, soap, unused shower caps, razors and, of course, toilet paper.