Duck fans spend eve of Rose Bowl helping LA charity feed and clothe people in need

Service project prior to a previous UO bowl game

More than 150 UO students, faculty, staff and Duck fans helped out a downtown Los Angeles charity on New Year’s Eve ahead of the Rose Bowl.

Interim President Scott Coltrane, Vice President Jamie Moffitt and Megan Helfrich, wife of Oregon Head Football Coach Mark Helfrich, were among the volunteers who made food baskets, cleaned streets and assembled desks at the Dream Center. This was the sixth year in a row that the UO hosted a service project in conjunction with a bowl visit.

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“We help out year after year, because it’s part of who we are as Ducks. It is part of our university’s mission to serve,” Coltrane said. “By filling these food boxes and sorting clothes, we are able to pay forward all of our good fortunate we receive as members of the University of Oregon community.”

The Dream Center houses more than 700 homeless people and feeds more than 30,000 people each year, among many other services. Senior Pastor Matthew Barnett said this is the largest volunteer effort from a university in the charity’s history.

“We never dreamed that at such a big moment in the University of Oregon history that the fans and employees would come and serve us,” Barnett said. “We are overwhelmed. It is so incredible they want to give in this way.”

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As volunteers sorted clothes and food, a long line of people formed outside the Dream Center, eager to receive a hot meal and a show of kindness. Megan Helfrich put fresh vegetables into bags and helped hand them out to families. She is busy with bowl events all week, but said she made time to help out.

“This is an important event. I thought it was a good opportunity to help the community,” said Helfrich.

At the conclusion of the event, the Dream Center selected 10 families with young children to receive brand-new bikes from Coltrane and Helfrich as a New Year’s Eve surprise. Coltrane beamed as 10-year-old Francisco got on his bike and threw an “O” for the cameras.

“I love it,” Francisco said. “My bike got robbed and so I didn’t have one.”

Pastor Barnett says the Ducks are bound to win the Rose Bowl now because they will have hundreds of Dream Center staff, volunteers and clients rooting for the UO.

By Jennifer Winters, Public Affairs Communications