Skyline football players lend helping hand to tent city move

July 30, 2013

By Neil Pierson

Skyline High School’s football players know how good they have it. They live in Sammamish, one of the most affluent cities in the state, and they don’t have to worry about where they’re going to sleep each night or where their next meal will come from.

But the Spartans have been learning firsthand that many people aren’t so fortunate.

Contributed Skyline High School football players connect poles to help construct tents at Redmond Family Church July 13.

Skyline High School football players connect poles to help construct tents at Redmond Family Church July 13.

Skyline’s players perform community service activities each year, and on July 13, they spent time at Redwood Family Church in Redmond helping homeless people relocate their tents.

Tent City 4, which shifts locations around East King County every 90 days, typically has 80-100 residents. An average moving day begins at 5 a.m. and often doesn’t conclude until 10 p.m.

But when volunteers show up in hordes, the task isn’t so daunting. Todd Puckett, pastor at Redmond Family Church, said Skyline’s players put in four very valuable hours.

“They were great and they were working hard,” Puckett said. “Their coaches were telling them what’s up and what needed to be done. There was a ton of them. I think it’s great for them to see and just be a part of serving people that need help.”

Tent City 4, as part of its agreement with King County, doesn’t stay in one place. This month, it moved from Kirkland Congregational Church. The encampment houses men and women — although minors are allowed in emergency situations — and has a detailed code of conduct for residents. It largely polices itself, although local law enforcement officers are called in when necessary.

Grant Evans, a senior wide receiver and linebacker, said Skyline’s players split up into a pair of two-hour shifts to accomplish the move. They unloaded trucks full of wooden pallets and constructed fences around them to create foundations for the tents. After that, they assisted the residents in putting up their tents and moving them onto the pallets.

It was an eye-opening event, Evans said, for the teenagers to witness the tent city and make a difference, even if only for one day.

“Up here on the plateau … we obviously don’t see the other part of the world,” he said, “and it’s just great for kids like us who grow up in such a fortunate area to be able to go out and see how other people live their life and what the real world is actually like.”

Susan Evans, Grant’s mother, helped organize the community-service activity for the team, and said head coach Mat Taylor promotes at least one volunteer opportunity like it every year.

Last year, the team worked with Generation Joy, an Issaquah-based organization, to collect unwanted items throughout the community and ship them to South Africa.

Cameron Saffle, a junior offensive lineman and linebacker, said he spoke with some of the homeless residents and got a clearer sense of the problems they were facing.

The volunteer project came only a day before the Spartans went to a team camp at the University of Puget Sound, and it helped the players bond.

“It gives us perspective, and especially going into our UPS camp with that on our backs, it definitely helped with the chemistry at camp, sort of brought us together better,” Saffle said. “It was just a great experience, and hopefully we get a chance to do it again.”

Puckett said Redwood Family Church is hosting Tent City 4 for the first time, and is doing it because it’s the right thing to do based on its Christian principles.

The pastor also said many of the homeless residents have jobs, but because of health problems or disabilities, they aren’t able to earn the income they need for permanent housing.

“I just listened to their stories, and we’ve gotten to know quite a few of them just from coming to church,” Puckett said. “So many of them have a unique story about why they’re there.”


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