Hoosiers feed homeless on Christmas morning

SAN FRANCISCO — Greg Gooch handed out gifts, cornerback Rashard Fant started the food assembly line, linebacker Marcus Oliver delivered trays of food to tables and head coach Tom Allen went table-to-table wishing a Merry Christmas to visitors of St. Anthony’s Dining Room.

On Christmas morning, every member of Indiana’s football team had a job to do.

The Hoosiers took shifts serving meals to members of San Francisco’s homeless population on Sunday, stepping away from preparation for Wednesday’s Foster Farms Bowl to volunteer on the holiday.

“It’s a blessing just to give back to the community,” said Gooch, a junior defensive lineman. “Knowing that you can help is a real blessing. It’s a good time to give back.”

Members of Indiana’s defense and special teams unit stepped off a pair of busses shortly before 9 a.m. and grabbed hats, aprons and latex gloves before getting to work. IU’s offensive players did the same two hours later.

The players split the responsibilities, which included kitchen preparation, gift delivery, table bussing and other jobs around the dining room, which typically serves 2,400 meals per day.

On Christmas morning, St. Anthony’s prepared approximately 3,000 meals. The menu included pit ham, chicken, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato pie and hot chocolate.

While visitors waited in line, linebacker Dawson Fletcher sang Christmas songs in the kitchen as he waited to prepare the food trays. Near him, Fant had no qualms razzing 305-pound defensive tackle Ralph Green III.

“Ralph’s down there slowing down the line,” Fant joked. “He’s eating all the ham instead of putting it on the tray.”

Once those trays were stocked with food, players like Oliver, defensive linemen Nile Sykes and Robert McCray, kicker Griffin Oakes and safety Chase Dutra, among many others, walked over and placed them in front of the guests.

“It was really cool to see the people coming in with smiles,” Dutra said. “One guy said he was blessed just to wake up this morning.”

The Hoosiers, too, seemed rewarded by the experience.

“I love Christmas,” Dutra said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday, so to see people that are less fortunate than I am, and just to see how excited they really are to get one Christmas gift and one meal, they’re just so excited and it really makes you think about how much you take for granted or how much you have right at your fingertips.”


  1. While IU was out helping the less fortunate, the team picked up a much wanted LB recruit as Mo Burnham committed to IU a few minutes ago. Things keep looking up for the Hoosiers and recruiting hasn’t slowed down with the coaching change. I would guess the offense will be the next signings as several positions need help.

    The experience the Hoosiers had early today gives them a better perspective on life. Players on scholarship have been blessed more than most people in our society. It is important for them to see people down on their luck are not much different than who they are. IU players get to see what a difference it makes to put in the work and class time to give them the chance to start life at a higher level than others do. At the same time they see people that aren’t at that level and see they are still people to care about.

  2. IU recruiting has slowed down, we where number 11 in the Big Ten and we are now number 12 in the Big 10….Illinois (just a great winning record the last few years and what bowl game have they went to?) is the latest school to pass IU in recruiting in the Big 10….glad to see that Mo Burnham has chosen IU football…I just hope all you so call knowledgeable fans (we need to win a bowl game, we need to name a new offensive coordinator, we need this and we need that?) are correct….other schools have signed football recruits (players) and before Mo Burnham the only recruit IU has signed is a “punter 1-star” and a recruit Quran Hafiz with bad decision making skills (questionable whether he gets into IU)…Recruiting is not looking that good with only 41 days left to signing day, not a single offensive recruit lately.

  3. IU79, since coach Wilson started here at iU the offensive recruits have typically ended up as late commitments for some reason and I expect this year to be the same. I am not worried about the ranking of IU in the B1G yet as this year has a strong defensive flavor which they needed. The offense was loaded last year with 3star players. I will be concerned if next season and our staff in place if the recruiting doesn’t pick up. As long as IU gets 3 star players that play above their level then we will be in good shape – Cronk and Ball are two examples of what I mean. The 1 star punter is rated 1 star because he is an unknown commodity to the rating services. He may be one of the best next year [I don’t think he will be but I don’t know] yet rated 1 star because he hasn’t been to any of the kicking camps in this country.

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