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Student-athletes collect old issue gear for charity

| Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A new student-run campaign is changing the way student-athletes use issue gear.

“One Shirt, One Body” gathers excess athletic apparel from student-athletes and distributes it to organizations in the community.

Senior Katherine McManus donates issued lacrosse gear in North Dining Hall for the One Shirt, One Body initiative.Photo courtesy of Andrew Helmin
Senior Katherine McManus donates issued lacrosse gear in North Dining Hall for the One Shirt, One Body initiative.

Junior Andrew Helmin said he came up with the idea last semester when his roommate, junior football player Cole Luke, was about to throw out the old athletic shoes and cleats he had been issued by the athletic department. Helmin, who is a member of the Irish track and field team, asked Luke if he could bring them home to give to his younger brother and his friends. The positive reaction from the kids was overwhelming, Helmin said, and it inspired him to start collecting issue gear to donate to local charities.

“They’re saying, ‘Cole Luke wore these shoes,’ and you can see the excitement on their faces,” Helmin said.

The concept of One Shirt, One Body, Helmin said, is more than just the tangible process of giving clothes to those in need. Issue gear that has actually belonged to college athletes excites and uplifts the recipients, he said.

“We’re trying to go for this message of higher education, promoting people’s goals and really inspiring these individuals,” Helmin said.

Helmin said he recalls visiting South Bend’s Center for the Homeless to give out football shirts and was struck by the enthusiasm it generated among the Center’s residents.

“Athletes have a very big role in the community, and this clothing can make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Working with junior football player Corey Robinson, Helmin said One Shirt, One Body began as a pilot program through Notre Dame but has quickly spread to a number of other colleges.

Robinson pitched One Shirt, One Body to the ACC student-athlete advisory committee, Helmin said, and the idea was quickly supported by ACC schools as a conference initiative.

One Shirt, One Body will also be featured at the NCAA convention in San Antonio this coming January, and Helmin said he has ambitious plans to grow the initiative.

“Our goal is to get all Division I, II and III schools running this collection,” he said.

Helmin said the model of One Shirt, One Body gives autonomy to individual schools, which are responsible for collecting donations from their athletes and then selecting the organizations that will receive the apparel.

“This makes it very appealing because it’s customizable, it’s easy to implement, and you’re making a big impact with this clothing,” Helmin said.

The athletic conferences currently adopting One Shirt, One Body include the WAC, Conference USA, the Patriot League and the Big Sky Conference, Helmin said.

The rapid growth of One Shirt, One Body has been exciting, Helmin said, but he wants to perfecting how the program runs.

“A lot of what we’re doing now is just trial and error and seeing where we can keep improving,” he said.

Helmin said the best way to support One Shirt, One Body is by spreading the word about it on social media and talking to friends at other schools that have not yet adopted the program.

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