Buckeyes lend a hand at LifeCare Alliance
The Buckeyes helped out at LifeCare Alliance Wednesday.

Nov. 22, 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - There was more than just football on the minds of the Ohio State football players on Wednesday morning. The entire team loaded up on four busses and travelled to two LifeCare Alliance of Columbus facilities to help the nonprofit as it prepares for a busy Thanksgiving weekend.

"You will be helping those who take care of people who don't have anyone to take care of them," LifeCare Alliance president and CEO Chuck Gehring told the team upon arrival.

LifeCare Alliance provides food, health and nutrition services to 15,000 individuals annually who are on a fixed income of typically less than $600 per month. Just one day before the Thanksgiving holiday, volunteers were busy preparing, boxing and delivering some of the 6,000 meals served each day through home delivery services, at congregated sites and through after school meal programs.

And the Buckeyes were right in the heat of the battle to help others, and in some cases the heat of the kitchen:

  • David Perkins was scooping peach cobbler into meal trays next to Dalton Britt, who was scooping rice on an assembly line that can produce 1,100 hot meals an hour;
  • Storm Klein, Steve Miller, J.T. Moore, Joshua Perry, Camren Williams and Craig Fada were building hundreds of burritos next to a series of giant ovens; and 
  • In another part of the Mound Street facility about a dozen Buckeyes, including Ben Buchanan, Zach Domicone, Taylor Rice, Stewart Smith, Joel Hale and George Makridis, were building hundreds of emergency meals...bags of crackers, peanut butter, jelly apple sauce, dry milk, apple juice, pudding and raisins.

    And over on the Harmon Road facility, the offensive side of the ball was doing some heavy lifting:

  • Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton, Carlos Hyde and Cardale Jones loaded up dozens of Styrofoam coolers into "meals on wheels" vans; 
  • Reid Fragel, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and other offensive linemen were wrapping silverware in napkins in preparation of the lunch that would be served at the facility; and 
  • Marcus Hall, Ivon Blackmon, Chase Farris, Peter Gwilym, Frank Epitropolous and others were scooping and filling gallon-sized plastic bags full of dog food for the pets that are owned by the LifeCare clients.

    This community service effort had the players interacting with people. Linsley and Reid Fragel hand delivered trays to some of those eating lunch who were in wheel chairs or needed extra assistance. Norwell and Jack Mewhort were behind a buffet counter actually serving food to those who were lined up to eat.

    Everyone enjoyed the presence of the Buckeyes.

    "We were all excited to have the team come down and assist us," Lifecare Alliance communications director Michelle Jones said. "We have so much to do every day, and we are very appreciative the team came to help."

    The warm feelings were mutual.

    "It felt really good to help somebody...to brighten some people's day today," Kenny Guiton said. "Today was nice. We felt like we were really helping people."

    The work went beyond food and food preparation. Holiday decorations were set up. Exterior grounds of the facilities were cleaned. And Jake Stoneburner and Jeff Heuerman even sat at a phone bank and made dozens of phone calls each, introducing themselves and wishing people on the other end a Happy Thanksgiving.

    "We were waking some people up because it was early, but the majority of the people were very grateful we were calling," Stoneburner said. "And some were really excited. They were diehard Buckeye fans telling us `Go Bucks' and to `Beat Michigan.'"

    And that would brighten some LifeCare Alliance clients' day once again.