Sept. 23, 2013
MILFORD, N.J. - As the calendar turned to fall Seton Hall student-athletes were out in full effect on Sunday afternoon, taking to the farm to do their parts in the fight against hunger.
For the second consecutive year, the Pirates partnered with America's Grow- a- Row (AGAR) to help harvest crops that were in turn distributed to area food banks.
In 2012, the first year of the partnership, the Seton Hall group of student-athletes set the organization's record for produce picked in one day with a staggering final total of 22,000 pounds of squash. On Sunday, over 50 student-athletes combined to shatter the standard set last year; reaching 36,500 pounds in a two-hour span.
According to Chip Paillex, the Founder and President of America's Grow-a-Row, the substantial haul was enough to fill an entire 53-foot tractor trailer and would provide 146,000 servings - the equivalent of one serving for over half of Newark's entire population.
"The Seton Hall athletes did an incredible job for us," said Paillex. "Each one of them worked at a great pace and really made an enormous difference today. I still can't believe how much was harvested in just a few hours. So much was picked that it blew away our previous record of picking by one group."
The connection between Seton Hall and the Grow-a-Row organization extends far beyond Sunday's efforts. Former SHU basketball star Jerry Walker and his charity Team Walker have been deeply involved with Grow- a-Row as Jerry brings a group of young kids out to the farm every summer for them to learn about farming and share the harvest from the day with their families.
Though it is relatively new, the partnership between The Hall and AGAR is one which figures to continue to bear fruit in more ways than one in the future. This initiative has become a central part of The H.A.L.L. (Helping Athletes Learn to be Leaders) Program's community enrichment efforts and is one that is immensely popular among the student-athletes.
Two Seton Hall freshmen, who took part in the harvest for the first time on Sunday weighed in on the experience.
"It was fun to break the harvesting record by collecting over 36,000 pounds of squash," said Holli Rolle of the women's cross country team. "It was especially rewarding to know that it's going to those families in need. I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty and being in the trenches doing the hard work that was gathering all the squash."
"I was surprised at how much we collected as a whole," added baseball's Mikeal-Ali Mogues. "It was a great experience and it shows how much Seton Hall Athletics cares about the community to go out, drive an hour away from campus, and spend our day helping families in need."
Grow a Row was founded in 2002 with a small plot and one volunteer. From there it grew under the direction of Paillex, who started off with core of volunteers comprised of friends and family and then expanded to his local church. It continued to grow every year at astonishing speeds. Now in 2013, over 2,100 volunteers have helped donate over 1.72 million pounds of harvest for food banks state wide.