Sunday, January 25, 2004

Good deeds precede buildup to rivalry

By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

From left, UC freshmen Angela Smith, Melissa Barclay, Megan Knight and sophomore Allison Maume are surprised to see that Christina Fugman has had her hair highlighted with blue wall paint.
(Meggan Booker/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
UC freshman Christina Fugman gets her hair highlighted with blue wall paint by her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sister Jenny Walker, a sophomore at UC..
(Meggan Booker/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)

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EAST END - On the court, they are bitter rivals. Off the court, at least for a day, they are collegial partners in one of the most popular community service programs in Greater Cincinnati.

Students at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University set aside their rivalry Saturday for the seventh annual Crosstown Helpout.

Almost 1,000 students and alumni fanned out to 35 schools and social agencies in the metropolitan area, including Northern Kentucky, to paint walls, wax floors, clean windows, pick up trash and build bookshelves in libraries.

The event is a build-up to the Feb. 3 Crosstown Shootout basketball game.

The Helpout started in the 1998.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, bleary-eyed students and alumni from both schools gathered at UC's Shoemaker Center to get their assignments.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," said 19-year-old Lauren Piontek as she carefully applied sky-blue paint to a wall at the LeBlond Recreation Center, 2335 Eastern Ave.

But Piontek, a freshman nursing major at UC, looked like a pro. A native of Green Bay, Wis., she said the Helpout program is a good way to become more familiar with Cincinnati and contribute to her new community.

All the paint for the Helpout program - 760 gallons - was donated by Glidden Paint Centers. Home Depot mixed it and also supplied drywall, shelves, paintbrushes, ceiling panels, spackling and other items.

Funny thing, though. While organizers made sure to have an even number of Xavier and UC students together at each work site, there wasn't much mingling.

"Maybe there will be more interaction once the pizza gets here for lunch,'' said Nick Petro, a 19-year-old sophomore at Xavier who was also painting at the LeBlond center.


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