Lincoln High School Boys Basketball Team Clothing Drive
Submitted by: Mr. Blair Minyard, Lincoln High School teacher and coach.
There was more to this summer for the Lincoln High School boys varsity basketball players than dribbling, shooting, and summer league games. As part of the team’s annual community service project, what started as a modest clothing collection near the end of the school year turned into a full-fledged clothing drive and a collaboration with a prominent international collegiate fraternal organization, and a local grassroots 501 c (3) organization receiving the donations.
Head coach Blair Minyard and his players partnered with the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to collect over three hundred pounds of used clothing during the months of June and July. On Wednesday, August 8, the basketball team and several members of the fraternity gathered at Lincoln High School with the clothes and handed them over to Life Progressive Services Group of Mount Vernon.
Life Progressive Services is “an organization designed to facilitate the transition of formerly incarcerated men and women back into the community through advocacy, education, and resource provision,” according to Mr. Ken Bright, the group’s founder and president. While the organization receives support from Volunteer New York and the United Way, the most meaningful support comes from the generosity of Westchester citizens. And this is where the young men of Lincoln and the Westchester Alphas (the Eta Zeta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha) felt their efforts should be directed.
“We are truly grateful to everyone who was involved,” said Mr. Bright as he helped the players load the clothes into the van. “Very grateful.”
But Mr. Bright wasn’t the only one to feel a sense of gratitude on this day. Everyone recognized the value of their efforts. “This was a wonderful community service opportunity where these young men could participate in the very important, yet virtually invisible, role of societal reentry for an underserved segment of our population,” shared fraternity chapter vice-president Ronald Morris, retired math department chair from New Rochelle High School.
For the players, the experience of this clothing drive had multiple effects. Not only did they learn the value of giving to those in need, but when they got to meet the brothers of the fraternity they had the opportunity to share time with African-American men who personify the very future that many of them hope to have someday.
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first of all black greek letter organizations. It was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. In the 112 years of its existence, it’s brotherhood has come to include many prominent members of American history including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, actor and political activist Paul Robeson, writer and historian W.E.B. Dubois, and Olympian Jesse Owens.
The Westchester Alphas chapter numbers several dozen men ranging in all aspects of professional life from business to education to the arts. They are active in a number of community service projects (including awarding three scholarships to graduating seniors annually) as well as the fraternity’s national initiatives such as “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” and “Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College”. It is the hope of Coach Minyard that the collaboration between the team and the fraternity during the clothing drive is just the beginning of a deeper relationship between his players and these potential mentors.
The clothing drive itself started as a small endeavor. The players planned to collect clothes that had been left in classrooms and lockers at the end of the year and place them in the clothing dumpster near the school. But as word spread about what the team was doing, teachers and other members of the Lincoln community began bringing in clothes they had been planning to donate. As the clothes continued to come in, Coach Minyard, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha himself, enlisted the help of his brothers to donate clothes and to find a suitable local organization that could benefit from the collection. Chapter president Charles Curtis contacted Life Progressive Services Group and they were more than happy to receive the donation. By the time the clothes were picked up, there were almost twenty bags and an estimated weight total of over 300 pounds.
“I couldn’t believe how much was collected, how much people donated,” said senior point guard Khalique Wright, “And knowing that this will help people get their life back together, it’s so important and I was very happy to be a part of it.”