The Howard University men’s basketball season ended Thursday with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament after they ended a 31-year tournament drought, but as historic as their season was, their commitment to helping others off the court is just as impressive.
After every road trip this season, the Bison collected the unused toiletries from their hotel rooms and donated them to Mamatoto Village, a nonprofit focused on Black maternal health.
“It feels good that they’re like, here’s some shampoo, here’s some essentials that we don’t have to worry about it,” said Mariah Oates of Mamatoto Village. “It kind of just takes that extra burden off.”
The Bison players also donate their time by volunteering at Mamatoto Village this season.
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“It’s really special to be able to advocate for something that doesn’t necessarily directly affect you,” guard Jelani Williams said. “It’s been very touching for us off the court to see the impact that we’ve been able to make.”
Mamatoto Village’s partnership started this season and has already made a difference to mothers who go there.
“That they’re keeping our moms in the forefront, because a lot of our moms do come from those underserved communities and may not have those resources readily accessible,” Oates said.
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The organization offers perinatal services like labor and lactation support to women in underserved parts of the D.C. area.
Having young men contribute to the cause is a big boost, Oates said.
“They are partners,” she said. “They have mothers; they have sisters. And they’re much so a partner in this fight, so for them to choose Black maternal health as a social justice initiative is amazing in and of itself.”
“When you think about the best teams, they’re most connected off the court,” Williams said.
Many different athletic programs across the country take part in the scouting and scavenging initiative, which helps a network of charities.
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