This week we were fortunate enough to join our wonderful community partners, Gonzaga University and the Gonzaga Alumni Association, during the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament in Las Vegas for an afternoon of service at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (CCSN).
It has been a long-standing tradition for Zags fans to gather in Las Vegas the Sunday of the WCC tournament, first to celebrate Mass and then to join with Catholic Charities for a service project. Gonzaga has been a long time partner of Catholic Charities Eastern Washington and we are honored to share our mission with them.
We were invited again this year to join CCSN at their beautiful 8 acre campus on Las Vegas Boulevard North, which they call the “Corridor of Hope” and includes other organizations such as the Salvation Army and the local Women’s & Children’s Center.
We toured the men’s sleeping facility, which holds 524 beds and is at capacity of approximately 600 individuals every night. We saw the massive community dining facility that serves 500 hot meals a day and operates the local Meals on Wheels program, which delivers seven frozen weekly meals to 2,200 seniors. Finally, we visited the Nevada Food Pantry, open to all state residents, which can provide each visitor with nearly 70 pounds of food per monthly visit.
After walking the grounds and soaking up some of that incredible sunshine, we were ready to get down to business! CCSN showed a short video and shared with us that we would be filling 1,000 backpacks with school supplies for refugee children and students from their English Language Program.
Dozens of GU fans, including Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh, got to work! Drew Reider, director of regional chapters for Gonzaga alumni, put on some rock music and assembly lines started unzipping backpacks, stuffing paper in binders, opening boxes of pencils and hustling to fill all 1,000 bags.
The colorful backpacks stacked up against the walls and cheerful smiles and jokes rang throughout the room the entire time. Many hands did indeed make light work.
As the afternoon came to a close, there were not enough words of thanks to express our gratitude. Everyone was appreciative to Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada for their hospitality, to the Gonzaga alumni and fans for their hard work, and to those of us from Catholic Charities Eastern Washington that were so grateful to share in such an amazing day and remarkable community.