EWU Women’s Basketball Reaches Out to Community, In Many Ways

In conjunction with tonight's home game against Northern Arizona, Eagles partner with Spokane Guilds' School and Neuromuscular Center for its annual "Kids for Kids" Penny Drive

Click HERE for more information on the Spokane Guilds' School & Neuromuscluar Center "Kids for Kids" Penny Drive

In the midst of winning six of seven Big Sky Conference games over the last month, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team has also been active off the court with a variety of community service projects.

Among its many initiatives, the Eagles have teamed up with the Spokane Guilds' School and Neuromuscular Center to help promote the organization's annual "Kids for Kids" Penny Drive. At tonight's (Feb. 2) home game versus Northern Arizona, members of the SGS&NMC will be on hand to pass out information and accept donations.

The primary goal of the penny drive is to raise awareness of children with developmental disabilities, so that when they enter the public school system they will be treated with the same respect and understanding as anyone else. Over the past 16 years, the "Kids for Kids" Penny Drive has raised $2,367,755 for disabled children in the Spokane community.

In addition to helping with the penny drive efforts, Eastern Washington Athletics donated 200 tickets for this game to those families who use the Spokane Guilds' School & Neuromuscular Center.

Each year, the SGS&NMC serves over 200 infants and toddlers in the Spokane area with medical evaluations, physical, occupational and speech/language therapies, as well as special education and access to full family support centers.

"We have always deemed it a priority within our program to be the type of people who give back and care about our community," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We know we are blessed to be in the positions we are in as part of Eastern Athletics. Anything we can do to give back and help those around us is really special to us."

The women's basketball squad, spearheaded by its junior class of Carrie Ojeda, Courtney Nolen and Jordan Schoening, also organized a shoe drive this season called Shoe-Za Palooza. The Eagles set up boxes at various home games, throughout campus and around Cheney to collect new and gently used shoes that will be donated to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane, Wash. The team collected more than 100 pairs of shoes through their efforts.

Eastern participated in a similar campaign while on the road at Montana State last weekend. Schuller, along with her entire staff, coached the game in Bozeman barefoot in an effort to raise awareness and money for Samaritan's Feet - a non-profit organization aimed at providing footwear for impoverished children around the world.

Montana State's head coach Tricia Binford and her staff went barefoot as well to help promote the Barefoot Coaching Movement, which started in 2007 in an effort to raise awareness of the growing problem among impoverished children who suffer from foot-borne diseases and infections.

"We like to take any opportunity when it's there," said Schuller. "With us being in the middle of season right now, we are more visible. For things like the shoe drive and penny drive, it provides a great opportunity to use our visibility to help those causes. But we will continue to be as active in the spring and fall."

The Eagles also recently volunteered at the Special Olympics East Region Basketball Tournament. At the event, which was held on Jan. 29 on the EWU campus, members of the team and coaching staff helped with scoring, officiating and cheerleading/encouragement of the athletes.

The women's basketball team also helps every year with the Special Olympics Spring games and the East Region bowling tournament in the fall.

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