“LoggerUP,” the hashtag made popular by the Puget Sound athletics department, is more than just a mantra.

It's a philosophy that's all about stepping up, and when it comes to giving back to the community, Logger student-athletes step up in a big way.

Each year the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) organizes three community service events, rallying the more than 20 percent of Puget Sound students who play varsity sports on campus to give back to their community. In October Loggers collected canned goods for the Trick-or-Can food drive, benefitting local food banks. In the spring they’ll host area kids on campus for a field day through NCAA Division III’s partnership with Special Olympics.

Logger student-athletes gather in Memorial Fieldhouse for the Adopt-a-Family “wrap party.”

And just before winter break, amid cramming for finals, about 80 Logger student-athletes gathered in Memorial Fieldhouse for the Adopt-a-Family “wrap party.”

“I would say this is our favorite community service event,” says Zach Teats ’19, a defensive back for the Logger football team and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president.

Part of a series of seasonal assistance efforts by The Salvation Army, the Adopt-a-Family program helps ensure that lower-income families in Tacoma have the opportunity to receive gifts and provide gifts for their children.

“That’s where we come in,” Zach says. “We may not be in the position to give back in huge ways, but what we do in getting the whole community involved, I think that’s very special and really important.”

Puget Sound’s 23 varsity sports teams united to adopt 15 local families this year, raising money through rummage sales and team fundraisers to purchase items on the families’ wish lists—everything from toys and toiletries to art supplies, clothes, and action figures.

That day in the field house, Zach and other members of the Logger athletics family pooled their resources, channeled their inner elves, and wrapped some gifts. A lot of gifts. Later that night a handful of students dropped the gifts at The Salvation Army about a mile and a half from campus, delivering a little holiday cheer to neighbors in need.

Zach says that community service projects like this help put the holidays—and the stress of college—in perspective. “It’s a reality check of how blessed we are to go to this school and be on this campus,” he reflects. “I think you should always just try your best to give back, especially when you’re in the position to do so.”