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Football Kicks Off Voting Matters Community Outreach

Aug 16, 2020
David Priebe (Photo: Andrew Cho)

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The UCLA football program kicked off the civic engagement portion of the athletic department's Voting Matters Initiative Saturday morning, distributing free backpacks and school supplies to children at a drive-through event hosted by the Weingart YMCA Wellness & Aquatic Center.

Approximately 1,000 backpacks were placed in car trunks of families with school-aged youth from in and around Inglewood. Student-athletes and staff members, wearing face coverings and gloves, were spread across multiple stations throughout the parking lot.

"It's a special day," said defensive back Quentin Lake, who teamed with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson at one station. "UCLA football's all about acts of service. It's important because we have such a big name. UCLA's such a big name in the LA community that it's important for us to be active in these areas."

The Voting Matters Initiative was launched in June to bring voter education to, and encourage voter registration within, UCLA's student-athlete community. Brian Norwood, in his first year as the football team's assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach, is among a number of staff members taking an active role in ensuring the message of the initiative is heard.

"Just watching the guys right now, interacting with community, interacting with fans of UCLA sports, not just football, but all sports, it's really been a blessing," said Norwood, who was at Saturday's event. "It's been just a joy seeing these guys interact and be able to do it through service."

In addition to taking part in voter education sessions, teams throughout the department are taking part in civic engagement opportunities. As part of its own "Huddle Up" initiative, the football program is also scheduled to participate in a food distribution event in September.

"I've been doing it ever since I got to UCLA, just looking for ways to serve," said defensive back Shea Pitts. "This is a great opportunity. Even though there's coronavirus going on, we've got our masks, we've got our gloves, got our hand sanitizer, so we're going to make sure we get things done and we can inspire the youth and then change someone's life, hopefully."