YUMA, Ariz. – A belief in giving back to the community spawned the Day of Champions back in the early 2000’s at Arizona Western College, and the event is still going strong. This year, the Matadors combined with volunteers from Walmart and Sam’s Club to send out more than 240 people.
The Day of Champions has been a great partnership between Walmart and Sam’s Club and the AWC athletic department to help build up the Yuma community.
“We have a strong belief in teaching our student-athletes how to be a part of the community that they are in,” said AWC Athletic Director Jerry Smith. “We have some great kids here at the college, and this is a great event and way for them to give back.”
In the morning, the volunteers met in the gym at the college and hopped on buses to go out to their various job sites. The group included about 200 student-athletes in addition to the coaches and administrative personnel from the athletic department. Head coaches Nikki Bethurum, Patrick Cunningham, Kenny Dale, Charles Harral, Drew Keehn, Tiffany Minnick, Tom Minnick, Alexia Poon, assistants Caitlin Voss, Alfonso Perez, Kyle Isaacs, Dontae Bryant, Tyler Beman, Amanda Nakasawa, Jerry Dominguez, Tony Mitchell, Will Harris, Gio Perez, Jim Ewan, Aaron Rodriguez, and Aubrey Kimball all helped lead the groups in their tasks.
The groups performed a wide variety of jobs, from helping paint a youth center for Precious Treasures in Somerton, Ariz. to helping sort through a truckload of donated goods at Amberly’s Place Thrift Shoppe. Some groups worked outside at Saddles of Joy, Helping Hands of Yuma, the West Wetlands Park, Yuma Lutheran, Old Souls K9 Rescue and Habitat for Humanity. Others helped inside in warehouses or missions at the Food Bank, Crossroads Mission, the Salvation Army Thrift Store and Crossroads Mission 2nd Chance Thrift Store.
In addition to a group of more than 30 volunteers, Walmart and Sam’s Club also put together breakfast bags.
Southwest Gas donated work gloves and sunscreen, and Pepsi-Cola of Yuma provided water.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.