Football players joined folks at Rose Lane Nursing and Rehabilitation center for exercise and other activities.

JACKSON TWP. About a dozen residents of Rose Lane Nursing and Rehabilitation center were smiling big Monday afternoon with an assist from a few college athletes.

Eight football players from Walsh University spent part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day with residents of the nursing center on High Mill Avenue NW. The players joined their elderly neighbors for stationary exercises and stretching, as most in the group was in wheelchairs.

"It's nice to help out our community and show that we're a good group of guys," said Walsh freshman Trent Harrell, a defensive lineman for the Cavaliers' football team.

Added fellow lineman Reggie Homere, a sophomore, "We came out to show some love."

Rose Lane has hosted Walsh players the past couple of years as part of service day activities in honor of the holiday, according to Ashli Hartzler, life enrichment director at the nursing home. On past Martin Luther King Jr. holidays, the athletes joined residents in playing bingo and cards.

Part of Monday's visit also included meeting residents in their rooms for a few minutes to say hello and ask about their wellbeing.

"The players come in to be a friend and grandkid of the residents for a day," Hartzler said. "They jump in, do what they're asked to and help make their day."

Throughout Monday, the university had more than 300 volunteers, including students, other athletic teams, faculty and staff members, who partnered with approximately 20 local organizations to address topics such as education, homelessness, hunger, veterans, widows and care for the elderly.

Volunteers assisted at the soup kitchen in St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Massillon, and lent a hand at other locales, such as the Stark County Park District to, the Boys and Girls Club of Massillon, St. Luke's Assisted Living Center and North Canton YMCA.

Reach Steven at 330-775-1134 or at steven.grazier@indeonline.com.
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