College athletic rivals Alabama State University and Tuskegee University are extending their spirit of competitiveness beyond the football field and into the community in an effort to benefit one of the area’s most impactful charities, the Salvation Army.
School leaders announced last week that a joint Labor Day Classic block party on Tuesday, Sept. 3 — ahead of their annual Labor Day Classic meeting — would feature a friendly “fill-the-bins” competition to benefit the Salvation Army. A commitment to community and creating new opportunities, ASU President Dr. Quinton T. Ross Jr. explained, led Alabama State and Tuskegee to create the “CommUniversity” partnership.
“At Alabama State University, we call this commitment ‘CommUniversity,’” Ross said. “We are inviting everyone in the community and all over to come and participate with us as we get ready for the Labor Day Classic game.”
“We are here today to support an organization that is known for its charity in providing for so many individuals in both the Montgomery and Tuskegee communities,” Tuskegee University President Dr. Lily D. McNair added during an Aug. 8 joint news conference held at the Montgomery River Region Salvation Army headquarters in Montgomery, where she and Ross announced the partnership.
“The Salvation Army is a highly regarded social services organization that has a long tradition of providing compassionate care in the local community,” McNair continued. “That’s why we want to be part of this endeavor. The Salvation Army not only impacts both of our communities through day-to-day and crisis programs that benefit families, but through ongoing programs that help families get back on their feet.”
Through the competition, Ross and McNair challenge ASU and Tuskegee fans to fill Salvation Army bins available at the Sept. 3 block party with donated clothing and toiletries, which the Salvation will in turn distribute to needy recipients in both the Montgomery and Tuskegee communities. Bins at the block party will be marked for each school, which will allow the amount of items donated by fans to be tracked.
Lt. Bryan Farrington, administrative director of Salvation Army, said the organization is proud to be the beneficiary of this partnership. Block party donations will help the Salvation Army further its mission of meeting human need without discrimination.
“On behalf of the Montgomery River Region Salvation Army, we feel honored to be benefactors of such a long-lasting history of rich competition and fellowship as we go in service into our community,” Farrington said. “This partnership makes an immense difference in the level of care we are able to provide in the community. Thank you for partnering with us and the services you provide for the community.”
The two university presidents noted that bragging rights are up for grab through the off-the-field CommUniversity block party competition, as well as on the gridiron during the Sept. 7 game.
“Just like the game on that Saturday, we’re expecting a Hornet victory in this contest, too,” Ross said, grinning.
“The rivalry aspect is what makes this event so much fun and really gets people involved,” McNair said, along with predicting that Tuskegee will walk away with the win in both contests.
“Dr. McNair and I challenge our boards of trustees, faculty, staff, student body, alumni and the communities at large to make this one of the biggest competitions to support our community,” Ross said. “It’s important to remember that no matter which school collects the most donations, at the end of the day, no one is going to feel bad about giving away that much collected goods to the needy in our communities.”
Admission to the CommUniversity Block Party is free, and the event begins at 5 p.m. in the ASU Stadium parking lot. In addition to the competitive element, the block party will give the fans of both teams a chance to enjoy food trucks, carnival-style games, a DJ and prizes.
Over the last few years, ASU and Tuskegee have renewed their longstanding rivalry through the Labor Day Classic. Now in its third year, the Labor Day Classic game is expected to draw more than 30,000 fans from all over the world. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 in the ASU Stadium.
The block party is one of several events Alabama State University is hosting as part of Labor Day Classic Week — including the Nat King Cole Society Jazz Festival, the President’s Gala and the Labor Day Classic Concert. For more information about the CommUniversity Block Party or other Labor Day Classic Week events, visit www.alasu.edu/labordayclassic.
© 2019, Tuskegee University