Monday’s event was one of several community outreach events the Hurricanes have been a part of in recent months.
Over the summer, members of Miami’s football team volunteered at Miami-Dade Animal Services, visited with families at Lotus House and spent time at local elementary schools.
Long snapper Clay James, specifically, has earned recognition for his efforts in the community.
Earlier this month, he was named one of 12 national semifinalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, college football’s premier award for community service.
All of that, Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal said, is essential to the Miami experience.
“It’s part of their developmental process right here,” Cristobal said at Monday’s event. “One of the greatest things we can have is gratitude, right? And one of the best ways to express our gratitude is to give back to others…Look at all the little ones running around, looking up to them. It’s critically important. This helps them become better future fathers and husbands and leaders…And we want to be completely connected to our community. We always want to represent the best we can and we always want to help in any way we can as well. So this is a big, big day for the University of Miami.”
The players’ ability to inspire some of the children in her program was part of what made Monday’s event so special for Shamele Jenkins, the executive director of the Miami-Dade County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.
The association provides support to foster and adoptive families, non-relative caregivers and the children in their care – some of whom have endured experiences no child should endure.
Eighteen of those families went home with meals and memories after Monday’s event, as did some of the children from His House, a children’s home in Miami Gardens.
To see all of those youngsters enjoying themselves, Jenkins said, meant the world to her.
“This makes a difference. It makes a big difference. And for me, as a caregiver, I just know we’re opening up an opportunity for a lot of them,” Jenkins said. “This is going to be a memory for them…For each person, it’s going to be something different, but it’s something they’ll all remember.
“For the University to do this, it’s giving back. It’s letting us know we’re all part of the same pot and we can all teach one another and share with one another. It’s not a thing of color, it’s not a thing of economic status. It’s young…