CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – When not in class, at practice or competing, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi student-athletes choose to make a home away from home at the Ronald McDonald House of Corpus Christi throughout the Fall 2018 semester. The efforts of the Islanders athletic department are one of the Southland Conference’s 13 member institutions attempts to better their local communities through student-athlete volunteering endeavors.The Islanders began this year’s campaign at the annual Halloween Celebration on Oct. 31, dressing up in costume and handing out candy to the Ronald McDonald House residents as well as operating several activity stations. Volunteers also served as judges for both the parent and child costume contest.“Celebrating Halloween with the children was a truly special event seeing as many of them cannot physically go trick-or-treating due to their health,” said Dominic Baptiste, men’s cross country and track and field athlete and Student Government Association Athletic Senator. “We all had such a great time, and it meant a lot to us to be able to take part.”TAMUCC’s campaign with the Ronald McDonald House has carried over into the month of November where Islander student-athletes conducted a Wishlist Drive over a three-week period. Student-athletes, along with coaches and staff, collected more 40 pounds of household, kitchen and non-perishable food items for residents. They delivered these items and hosted a Thanksgiving Craft Day where they helped the children of the house make hats and hand out turkeys to families in order to celebrate the holiday.The Ronald McDonald initiative was spearheaded by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which assists with the planning, recruiting and execution of these events. The SAAC will kick off the new year with a game night scheduled for the second week of January as well as running a pop tab drive for the entire semester to help raise funds for the house.“Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House has been such a great experience thus far,” said SAAC President and soccer player Abbie Flax. “The kids and families of the house can be going through such hard and scary times, so it is a great feeling to be able to put a smile on their faces, even if it’s only for an hour or two. This is such a special organization, and we hope to stay involved as much as possible.”Ronald McDonald House Charities of Corpus Christi provides a comfortable home away from home for families who must travel to fulfill their children’s healthcare needs. Families have the opportunity to connect and receive strength and stability from others who share similar experiences. They offer a number of services that include the following: private guestrooms, daily meals, transportation, laundry facilities and activities for parents and siblings.As part of the “Southland Gives Back” initiative, the Southland Conference will profile a community service outing from each of our 13 member institutions this holiday season.