Athletics News

Memphis Tigers PAWS Reach 10,000 Book Goal

Memphis tennis player Tiffany Welcher rolls out two of the boxes of books donated for Memphis City Schools through a campaign initiated by the Memphis Tigers PAWS (Preparing Athletes for Winning Success) program. Over 10,000 books were donated during the campaign.
Memphis tennis player Tiffany Welcher rolls out two of the boxes of books donated for Memphis City Schools through a campaign initiated by the Memphis Tigers PAWS (Preparing Athletes for Winning Success) program. Over 10,000 books were donated during the campaign.

Oct. 31, 2012

A lofty goal of collecting 10,000 books for Memphis City Schools was born from the countless hours University of Memphis student-athletes have spent at Hanley Elementary volunteering as tutors and readers as well as working with students in other capacities.

As the campaign winds down, the Tigers have exceeded their goal. Books are being donated to seven Memphis City Schools deemed "Innovation Zone" schools.

At Hanley Elementary, the Tiger student-athletes' focus has been working with young people on their reading skills at the school which is located just a few blocks south of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Originally, the Memphis Tigers PAWS (Preparing Athletes for Winning Success) program had an idea of just collecting books at a couple events but then was inspired to a bigger goal which kicked off at the Tiger football team's season opener in September.

"Given their participation in athletics at the University of Memphis, our student-athletes become ambassadors, mentors and role-models for all of the children in the Memphis area," said Tiger Athletics Director Tom Bowen. "The programs adopted by the PAWS committee are vital to our community and allows our student-athletes to become involved in something much larger than just their sport or their classroom work.

"I would imagine that each of our student-athletes has been touched in a meaningful way by a coach, teacher or mentor and from that experience, has gained a valuable life-lesson," Bowen stated. "Through our PAWS program, Tiger athletes can pass those lessons to another generation and there is no greater lesson than to demonstrate to children the importance of an education."

While Memphis Athletics has already reached its 10,000-book goal, the department continues to look to add to its total as the campaign comes to an end this week.

"It is such an amazing accomplishment for the Athletic Department and the University," said Kristin Rusboldt, the coordinator of student-athlete development at the U of M. "The best part is that we are able to give these books back to children in our own community.

"It was a hefty goal in the beginning, but because of the determination and wonderful amounts of donations from the community, we are able to provide children in Memphis with an opportunity to take a book home and read it to their parents, share it with their siblings, or have parents engage their children in bedtime stories," she said. "This accomplishment really shows the dedication that our city has to the education of our youth."

Rusboldt recognized several groups, organizations and companies which helped PAWS reach its goal - the University of Memphis Communications and Marketing Department, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Ashley Furniture, The Friends of the Memphis Library, St. Mary's School, St. Agnes Academy & St. Dominic School, First Assembly Christian School, Idlewild Elementary, Memphis alum DeAngelo Williams and the Tiger Nation.

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