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Football, Women's Soccer Unite to Distribute Meals

Sep 13, 2020
Greg Dulcich and Jillian Martinez (Photo: Jesus Ramirez)

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The UCLA football and women's soccer programs joined forces Saturday to impact the Greater Los Angeles community, distributing food at a drive-through event hosted by the Weingart YMCA Wellness & Aquatic Center.

Wearing face coverings and gloves, student-athletes and staff helped assemble and hand out 850 meals to families for more than two hours. Bags were placed in cars, which began lining up well before the scheduled start time, at multiple stations throughout the parking lot of the YMCA.

"This is really important, especially with everything that has happened, with people losing their jobs, kids not being able to go to school and get their normal meals," said women's soccer junior Idalia Serrano. "Things like this have to happen more often in order to help people who need it."

The effort marks the latest by UCLA Athletics to utilize civic engagement across its teams to further the mission of the Voting Matters Initiative. In August, members of the football program passed out backpacks and other supplies as part of a drive-through back-to-school event at the Weingart Y. Brian Norwood, the team's assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach, established the relationship with the Inglewood location of the nonprofit organization.

"We have a lot of student-athletes that are looking for opportunities to serve," said Norwood. "Today has been great because we have not only the football team, but the women's soccer team has joined together (with us). It's really been an athletic department stand today and it's been a lot of fun."

Norwood, in his first year as a Bruin, was joined by head coach Chip Kelly, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Justin Frye and running backs coach DeShaun Foster from the coaching staff. Redshirt sophomores Elisha Guidry and Kyle Philips, who worked together at one station, were among the student-athletes on hand. Guidry also participated in the backpack drive.

"It's just an amazing feeling to know that I'm surrounded by so many guys with good hearts who aren't selfish," said Philips of his teammates. "They want to give back and help other people.

"Not only is it my team, but it's our entire school. We know we're so blessed to be at UCLA with everything we're provided. Everyone wants to give back and help the community."

Guidry and women's soccer redshirt sophomore Cassidy Tshimbalanga exchanged t-shirts from their respective programs at the completion of Saturday's event in a display of unity.

"I'm very fortunate to be part of a community, especially the UCLA community," said Tshimbalanga. "So, doing things like this just makes me feel really good knowing that we're helping other people and helping other families be happy also."