Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013, 9:32 pm
Generosity from Augustana's athletes, coaches spread warmth this winter
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By John Marx, email@example.com
On a blustery morning in late January, Rock Island High School teacher Nicole Regan noticed a number of students lacking proper winter outerwear on her way to work.
The Hoodie Challenge brought out the best in Augustana College athletes and coaches.
The images left an uneasy feeling in the stomach of Regan, who teaches Spanish and English Language Learners at Rock Island.
"Some did not have coats,'' she said of the students she saw walking and waiting for buses. "We have a percentage of students from lower-income homes. Some parents decide between buying the growing student a new winter coat and paying the heating bill."
After reaching school, Regan emailed longtime friend Kathi Fox, the administrative assistant for the Augustana College athletic department.
And the "Hoodie Challenge'' was on.
"She was driving to school and noticed far too many young people without proper jackets for the conditions,'' Fox said of Regan. "She reacted with her heart. I'm glad she did.''
In that email to Fox, Regan challenged the athletic department at Augustana College, requesting old sweatshirts or other cold-weather gear that might be sitting unused in offices and storage rooms in the Carver Center.
The request, and Regan's prayers, were answered in the biggest of ways.
When Regan came to pick up the donations, she loaded 12 huge garbage bags into her van along with a box that took two people to lift. There was an assortment of hoodies, winter coats, pants, gloves and hats along with other items from members of the coaching staff and the student athletes on various teams at Augustana.
Though she knew she sought help in the right place, the outpouring of love and support still caught Regan off balance.
"I didn't expect such an outpouring of generosity," she said. "I was overwhelmed with the amount of clothing collected. When Kathi told me I would need a truck to pick up the items, I thought she was kidding. I am filled right now with excitement, appreciation and gratitude."
Fox knew what Regan found out.
"As always, I am impressed by our student athletes," she said. "They were asked to give something of themselves and the response was overwhelming. And one student athlete made the decision to offer the challenge to her local church. The outpouring of donations from her congregation was tremendous and extraordinary.
"From my first day of work at Augustana, I have been moved by the willingness and drive of our student body to go out of their way to help others in need and less fortunate."
Fox says Regan is asking fellow Rock Island staffers if they know of students needing warm clothing. The students will be invited to come in after school and look through the items. She also is going to tell the students in her classes to keep an eye out for others who are walking or waiting for buses and don't have warm clothing.
"I am, and the other teachers here as well, really are grateful for the generosity shown by the entire athletic department at Augustana," Regan said. "It is great to see such compassion for others in our community."
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.