Ben Swinford, a Cornell University baseball player and National SAAC member representing the Ivy League, shares his thoughts about a recent community service outreach project conducted by the Division 1 National SAAC in Indianapolis this past November.  

During the most recent D1-SAAC meetings held in November at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, we were able to take some time outside of the conference room and give back to the community. This time, we were lucky enough to partner with the incredible non-profit: Samaritan’s Feet. We hopped on a bus and traveled a quick five miles to the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis, ending at our destination: the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.

Our task for the afternoon: wash the feet of and distribute new shoes to the hundreds of men, women, and children that come in. Having never worked with Samaritan’s Feet before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, on arrival, the greeting of warm smiles from the children waiting in line, volunteers of the community center, and Todd Melloh from Samaritan’s Feet reassured me that this would be a great experience and excellent opportunity to help out.

There were approximately twenty of us from D-1 SAAC washing feet, and we each worked with 8-12 people over the course of the afternoon. It was a great experience. I’ll never forget the first guy that stepped up to my station: Jimmy, a 14-year old swimming fanatic from two blocks down the road. He came in that day with his 4 younger brothers and one brave, strong mother. With size 15 feet, I could tell he had a chance to be a great swimmer. While talking with him over the next twenty minutes, I came to realize it had been 3 years since he last owned a pair of new shoes. He was thrilled when he walked away with a new pair Air Max Nikes laced up on his feet. About an hour later, Santiago, a 42 year-old father of six came through my station. He had just gotten off of a 12 hour day/night shift at the junkyard. It was great to see this incredibly nice man walk away with a brand new pair of bright-white Adidas and an even brighter smile.

As we packed up to head back for a final round of meetings for that night, I think we were all extremely grateful for this opportunity to partner with Good Samaritan’s Feet and volunteer at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. Not to be too cliché, but this is truly an experience I will never forget. 

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