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Service and sports: Help support local charities at ‘Cougs Care’ projects this football season

Amidst the revelry of face paint and foam fingers, a fusion of fandom and selflessness has become a hallmark of the BYU game day experience.

Cougs Care Stories
Local BYU alumni chapters will organize and host “Cougs Care” pregame tailgates that incorporate a service project for local nonprofits throughout the 2023 season.
Photo by Nate Edwards/BYU Photo

Last year, prior to the BYU football game at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, BYU alums, fans and friends donated more than 1,500 books for schoolchildren at a pregame tailgate. Similar service tailgates took place throughout the season, including at the New Mexico Bowl where Cougar faithful collected over 2,000 pairs of socks for people in need.

Now, in 2023 – BYU’s inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference – service tailgates will continue prior to each road game. Local alumni chapters will organize and host “Cougs Care” pregame tailgates that incorporate a service project for local nonprofits, beginning with the game at Arkansas on September 16th.

Cougs Care logo

“BYU alumni are focused on connecting for good no matter where we are,” said Michael Johanson, Alumni Association executive director. “Cougs Care projects allow our alumni, fans, and friends to come together to support the team on the road and make a positive and lasting impact in local communities. We hope everyone attending a road game this fall - and even those who aren’t going to the game - can join us in giving and spreading a spirit of service.”

This year’s slate of projects will benefit refugee groups, expand literacy efforts, provide food for communities in need, and even collect toys for kids at Christmas. So, if you’re planning on attending any BYU road game this fall, stop by the BYU Alumni pre-game tailgate to contribute to a good cause. You can find more details regarding each Cougs Care project below and on the BYU Alumni web page. (Please note that more details will be added as they become available so be sure to check back before each game).

Game: BYU @ Arkansas; Sept. 16, 2023, 6:30 PM CDT
Tailgate time: 3-5 PM CDT
Location: Wilson Park, 675 N Park Ave, Fayetteville, AR, 72701

CougsCare Graphic

Fans are invited to bring canned goods or other non-perishable items to the tailgate as part of a food drive to benefit the St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In lieu of a food item, donations will also be accepted at the tailgate.

Game: BYU @ Kansas; Sept. 23, 2023, 2:30 PM CDT
Tailgate time: 11:30-1:30 p.m. CT
Location: Buford M. Watson, Jr. Park, 727 Kentucky St., Lawrence, Kansas

A joint effort between the midwestern BYU alumni chapters, the BYU Education Society, and the University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences to collect children’s books to be donated to the Lawrence Public Schools Native American Student Services. Fans are invited to purchase a book from this Amazon wish list.

Game: BYU @ TCU; Oct. 14, 2023, 2:30 PM CDT
Tailgate time: 12 PM CDT
Location: Trinity Park, 2401 University Drive, Fort Worth. Pavillion: 4

Fans are invited to bring pillowcases, blankets and other bedding items to be donated to the Action Alliance International and World Relief. Items will be distributed to local refugee families in need. Donations will also be accepted at the tailgate.

Game: BYU @ Texas, Oct. 28, 2023, Time 2:30 PM CDT
Tailgate time: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location: LBJ High School, 7309 Lazy Creek Dr, Austin, TX 78724

With Christmas fast approaching, the Travis County Sheriff is partnering with the local BYU alumni chapters to host a toy drive for children in need. Fans are encouraged to bring children’s toys to the tailgate that will be collected and distributed by Travis County police. Toys can also be purchased from this Amazon wishlist.

Game: BYU @ West Virginia, Nov. 4, 2023, 7 PM ET
Tailgate time: 4-6 PM ET
Location: WVU Alumni Center, 1 Alumni Dr, Morgantown, WV 26506

A joint effort between the BYU alumni chapters, the BYU Education Society, and the West Virginia University College of Applied Human Sciences to collect children’s books to be used in the WVU Nursery School and the Monongalia and Preston Counties United Way. The collected books will be used to create new classroom libraries at the nursery school and to provide books to children in need in the local community. Books can be ordered in advance using this Amazon Wishlist and delivered directly to the WVU Nursery School or the local United Way chapters.

Game: BYU @ Oklahoma State, Nov. 25, 2023, 2:30 PM CDT
Tailgate time: TBD
Location: Southern Woods Park, 600 W 12th Ave, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Fans are invited to donate children’s athletic equipment to be distributed to the children served by the Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma and the Payne County Youth Services. Specific items that have been requested include soccer balls, playground balls, frisbees, jump ropes, and footballs. Equipment can be ordered in advance using this Amazon Wishlist.

BYU service tailgate highlights from past years. Video courtesy WTOC Savannah, KTAL Shreveport, KWTX Waco and WATE Knoxville.

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