December 2020, Sports

Saint Augustine’s teams up with CIAA and sporting goods chain to play Santa Claus

APEX, N.C. — The Saint Augustine’s University Department of Athletics, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and sporting goods chain Academy Sports + Outdoors have teamed up to play Santa Claus.

They surprised SoyMilk & Hope, a Raleigh nonprofit that supports women, with $1,000 worth of donated items.

“I had no clue as to what we would receive,” said SoyMilk & Hope founder Portia Hargrove. “I am very grateful for all the bookbags, socks, headbands and hats. It will go to great use, especially with the weather change now.”

SoyMilk & Hope addresses the health and well-being of young mothers, college students and those in need throughout North Carolina by providing basic hygiene care bags, school supplies, household products, pampers and wipes, non-perishable food items, and new and gently used clothing items. Its goal is to alleviate the stress and anxiety caused by the inability to purchase these essential items.

The donation was a result of a collaboration between Academy Sports + Outdoors and the CIAA two months ago to focus on community involvement within the CIAA market.

Dot Neal, SAU Senior Woman Administrator and Head Softball Coach, who is helping to oversee the collaboration, said she is “just happy to be able to help somebody.” Neal added, “The best part of this is knowing that we are going to help a lot of young ladies. To see the happiness on [Hargrove’s] face brings joy to my heart knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do.”

Neal and Senior Regional Marketing Specialist Liza Barrett of Academy Sports + Outdoors spearheaded the presentation earlier this month, which was held at the Academy Sports + Outdoors’ Apex location.

“Along with Academy Sports + Outdoors and the CIAA, I’m just happy that Saint Augustine’s University was able to put this on and make sure it was a nice event,” Neal said.

Hargrove was stunned when she arrived at the sporting goods store.

“I talked to Coach [Neal] several times. She asked me to send over a wish list, which I did,” Hargrove said. “She asked me to meet her here, but I had no idea what we would receive.”

“We never told her what it was,” Neal said.

In addition to Neal, several other members of the SAU Athletic Administration team were on hand. They were Interim Athletic Director and Head Football Coach David Bowser, Head Athletic Trainer Mijon Knight and Sports Information Director Anthony Jeffries.

SoyMilk & Hope was recommended for the initiative by SAU Dean of Students Ann Brown. Hargrove is an SAU alumna, and her organization has held donation drives on campus.

“It was my pleasure to nominate SoyMilk & Hope because it has been an integral part in the lives of the Sons and Daughters of SAU,” Brown said.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity and even to be selected because there are so many non-profit organizations out there,” Hargrove said.

The gift was what Academy Sports and the CIAA had in mind when they joined forces in late October for community engagement programs.

“The holiday season is that season of giving and that’s no different for us at Academy Sports + Outdoors,” Barrett said. “Especially with this new CIAA partnership that we got and the partnership with Saint Augustine’s. This is really a great way for us to support the local community in Raleigh.”

— Office of Sports Information