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Thursday April 21, 2011Sending The Right Message: Gators Brighten Easter Weekend For Gainesville Community

Gainesville, Fla.

The Easter baskets and candy lined the tables. The only thing missing were some volunteers to fill the baskets.

On Thursday afternoon the St. Augustine Catholic Church and Student Center got a visit from a few current Gator athletes, a few former athletes and a prominent former head coach in an effort to provide and put together Easter baskets for underprivileged children in the Gainesville community.

Men’s basketball head coach Billy Donovan and former football head coach Urban Meyer each made generous donations to help make the Easter baskets possible. Meyer was on hand to put the baskets together, along with former football players Terry Jackson and Marquand Manuel and current basketball players Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin.

Rev. David J. Ruchinski greeted the group and shared in his appreciation for their time and efforts. In November, it was Meyer who brought the football team to the community’s aid, making a sizable contribution to help feed needy and homeless families at Thanksgiving.

“To me, this really connects these people with the community, it sends the right message that we’re not just thinking of ourselves,” said Ruchinski. “To be able to share the blessings we’ve received, that was the message when the football team helped at Thanksgiving, and I’m so glad that the UAA is able to continue to reach our community.”

The opportunity to give back certainly hit home for the participants.

“It’s a really humbling experience,” said Young, coming off his freshman season for the SEC champion men’s basketball squad. “There are times you think your life is tough, but you have no idea what other people have to go through just to get by on a daily basis. As a student-athlete here, it’s the responsible thing to do to try and give back to our community.”

Thursday’s group effort sent the right message while ensuring that Easter weekend will bring some underprivileged children in the Gainesville community a little happiness, something Ruchinski takes great pride in.

“It’s a tangible reminder that even when things are tough, even when it seems like there’s no hope, you’re not alone.”

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