MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When some fans of the BYU Cougars come to Morgantown for a matchup with the Mountaineers Saturday they’ll bring a new tradition and a new take on tailgating with them.
A program called “Cougs Care” is an effort to give back.
Cougs Care Cleveland Chapter Chairman Eric Bryan said the BYU School of Education and WVU’s School of Education will collect children’s books for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston counties and WVU’s Nursey School.
While books are being collected and the clock ticks to kickoff, the BYU television and radio networks, which has a reach of 70 million, will air “good news” stories about Morgantown and WVU, Bryan said.
“It comes down to the BYU school creed, we believe in ‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,’” Bryan said. “That service can be rendered with partners everywhere and everybody wants children to learn, progress, and grow.”
The tradition of service began in 2019 when BYU traveled to Tennessee for a football game and conducted a coat and food drive with the Knox Area Rescue Ministries. Last year, $2,500 worth of diapers were collected in Pasco County, Florida; 1,541 books in Lynchburg, Virginia; and more than 1,500 pairs of socks and gloves in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during BYU’s bowl game.
“I am so happy my fellow BYU alumni and friends get to travel to West Virginia,” Bryan said. “You guys live in a great part of the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that we’re going to have a partnership for years to come as we play together in the Big 12.”
BYU Alumni Chapters from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, the Susquehanna Valley (Pa.), and Cleveland will collect children’s books from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Erickson Alumni Center not far from Mylan Puskar Stadium. In addition to collecting books, Bryan said they want to get to know the people from the Morgantown area.
“We prefer to have new books. We’d love to see those kids get brand new books, and we even have an Amazon Wish List set up with a list of books,” Bryan said. “If you order through the Amazon link, they will ship them directly to the United Way of Monongalia and Preston counties.”
Nationally, statistics show only 35 %of public school students read at or above the fourth grade level, and one in four grow up without learning to read. Education experts report that children who are read to at home generally have higher test scores in school.
“We can really make an impact on the young children in Morgantown that we want to support,” Bryan said. “This is bigger than a game. This impacts our communities and our country, which we all love dearly, so I hope we can all get behind that.”
Bryan said orders are already being received on the Amazon page, and he encourages Mountaineer fans to bring a donation and get to know a Cougar on Saturday at the Erickson Alumni Center.
“We’ve already received hundreds of donations and we’re so grateful for that and we hope to get many more,” Bryan said. “We look forward to partnering in like service opportunities with West Virginia going forward.”