The sun was peeking over a stand of trees near the Community Services League warehouse early one morning when an Independence School District bus pulled into the parking lot.
Slowly, 23 members of the William Chrisman High School football team – the first 23 to show up for the morning session – along with coach Matt Perry and members of his coaching staff emerged for a unique "workout" session.
Their mission? To unload 700 boxes, which contained a half million socks, off a semi and load them into the CSL warehouse.
"I think these players are going to get a good workout today," quipped CSL president and CEO Doug Cowan, who joined warehouse manager Don McLaughlin, a 1972 Chrisman grad, in leading the players and coaches through a brief instructional period.
Bombas Socks donate a pair of socks for each pair purchased, and they have donated a half million socks that will be distributed to those in need in the metro area, and as far as Manhattan, Kan., to Columbia, Mo.
"I can’t even imagine how long this would have taken if we would have tried to do it. So I called (activities director) Greg McGhee over at Chrisman and he talked to Coach Perry and here they are helping out! Greg and Chrisman are great to work with, and we’re going to have more trucks bringing more socks and we’re going to call Truman and Van Horn to see if they would like to get involved."
Soon, as if they were participating in drills or conditioning, the Bears are lined up and have formed a production line, with players carrying one or two boxes from the semi to the front of the warehouse.
Slowly, box after box is stacked from floor to ceiling.
"This is great for us, and great for the kids," McLaughlin said. "Being a former Bear, this is a great morning for me seeing players and coaches from my high school helping to unload all those boxes."
One of the Chrisman leaders inside the warehouse was Bears senior Alex Atagi.
"We’re getting in a good workout today," Atagi said, laughing. "We could be working out at school or working out here, and it’s great to be here. It’s a good experience, a team-bonding experience and we’re helping the Community Services League."
It didn’t take an hour before the last of the boxes were unloaded from the truck and placed on the warehouse floor.
"Where’s the next truck!" yelled James Blair, and his teammates and coaches laughed and applauded.
"That’s what’s so great about something like this," McGhee said. "I know our guys were intimidated when they opened that truck and they saw all those boxes. They probably thought we were going to be here all day. And look at it, we’re done in less than an hour."