On Sunday, Williams Homeless Outreach (WHO) hosted a Hoops for Hunger basketball tournament in Chandler Gym to support the Berkshire Food Project.
This is the second occurrence of the event, which raised $650 last year. Co-presidents of WHO, Charlie Wyser ’17 and Julia Cheng ’17, organized the fundraiser. Entrance into
the tournament as a player or spectator was free, but there was a suggested minimum donation of five dollars, which a majority of both players and viewers contributed.
The tournament featured 12 teams across a range of years and skill levels, including several first-year entries. The teams played full-court games of five-minute halves, with the exception of the last game, which ran for two 10-minute halves. Winsanity defeated Hopkins Globetrotters 27-22 in the final match.
Players from the women’s basketball team volunteered as referees for the games, and the Springstreeters performed the national anthem as a half-time show.
WHO raised $220 from the event and two weeks of tabling in Paresky beforehand, and Wyser believes that the sum will reach $400 when they add in additional collections in the coming days. Though his personal goal was initially $1000, this goal was hindered by difficulty reserving space in the gym over Winter Study, the intended time for the tournament. The funds that the tournament did raise will be added to the money earned from WHO’s GoFundMe and donated directly to the Berkshire Food Project.
Berkshire Food Project is a non-profit that serves free meals five times per week at the First Congregational Church in North Adams. It receives funding from organizations and individuals, both at the College and also in the surrounding Berkshire community. Students from the College have volunteered at the organization in the past. WHO works to coordinate volunteer efforts at Berkshire Food Project and other local organizations that fight homelessness.
Wyser said he is happy with the success of the event, despite mitigating factors. He was impressed at the number of teams that participated despite the “brutal cold and semester stress,” and inspired by the participants’ commitment to helping the larger community. “It is wonderful to see so many Williams students making the effort to support food security in the Berkshire area,” he said.
Hoops for Hunger is a non-profit that started in Ohio to raise awareness and funds for local homeless and has spread informally through middle schools, high schools, colleges and the NBA. Wyser organized his first Hoops for Hunger tournament as a senior at his high school in Minnesota, and he brought the tradition to the College with him. He has run both of the College’s tournaments in his two years as a member and then president of WHO.
“I’ve always been interested in basketball,” Wyser said. “I like that it’s a very accessible sport for a wide range of people. It’s fun to watch when the players are good, and it’s still fun to watch when the players are bad.”
He had more success organizing the tournament than playing in it; his own team, Charley’s Angels, lost in the first round.