Athletics News
BIG EAST Conference SAAC partners with Hugs for Heroes to assemble military care packages for American troops

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - On Saturday, Sept. 29th, the BIG EAST Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) participated in a community service activity with Hugs for Heroes, Inc., a Dover, Massachusetts nonprofit organization. BIG EAST SAAC Representatives and athletic administrators representing various league institutions, gathered at the BIG EAST Conference headquarters in Rhode Island to assemble care packages for 150 American troops serving in Afghanistan.


The community service activity, coordinated through Hugs for Heroes, was the result of the student-athletes' desire to take on a meaningful community service activity and was planned in conjunction with the annual SAAC meeting that takes place at the Conference office. BIG EAST SAAC Representatives, guided by the principles of ethics, integrity, sportsmanship and a respect for diversity, play a leadership role in promoting community service at the campus level as well as to establish a Conference wide community service initiative. 


The SAAC Representatives assembled shipping boxes, completed customs forms, sorted supplies, wrapped items and packaged the supplies. Additionally, each representative wrote a personal letter that was included within the military care packages along with a BIG EAST Conference pin for each solider.


Mireille Manzone, founder and president of Hugs for Heroes, said, "This was one of our most successful projects to date. We are thrilled to have been able to partner with the BIG EAST and are extremely grateful for the students' hard work."


Jennifer Condaras, Associate Commissioner for Compliance/SWA Liaison at the BIG EAST said, "Our student-athletes were excited to put together military care packages for our troops overseas. This activity was a great way to give back to our troops who defend our nation and protect our freedom. Hugs for Heroes is a wonderful organization and truly goes the extra mile to make sure our troops know that we appreciate their service and that they are not forgotten."


The BIG EAST Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Representatives attending the meeting were:
Amanda Hardewig, Cincinnati, Women's Swimming
Nicholas Cerra, Connecticut, Men's Swimming & Diving
Ann Fiorvanti, Connecticut, Assistant Director of Compliance
Drew Edwards, DePaul, Men's Track & Field
John McEnroe, DePaul, NCAA FAR
James Heine, Georgetown, Baseball
Kevin Bandy, Louisville, Men's Swimming
Lauren Tibbs, Marquette, Women's Basketball
Kiersten DeHaven, Notre Dame, Women's Rowing
Corinne Clauss, Providence, Softball
Jonathan Lefferts, Rutgers, Men's Lacrosse
Jamal Branch, St. John's, Men's Basketball
Joey Lacus, Seton Hall, Men's Swimming
Alex Mendez, USF, Baseball
Erin Malone, Villanova, Women's Swimming & Diving

About Hugs for Heroes
Hugs for Heroes, Inc., is a Dover, Massachusetts-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting American troops serving overseas by sending care packages containing essential items and notes of support.  For more information, please visit

About the BIG EAST Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
The BIG EAST Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) serves as the voice of student-athletes hailing from thirteen member institutions and competing in twenty-four sports.  In doing so, the committee's mission is to improve the communication with all student-athletes at member institutions as well as between institutions, take an active role understanding and providing feedback regarding NCAA and Conference legislation, and promote student-athlete well-being, academic achievement, personal development and community service.  For more information, please visit


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