A tradition of giving | Prep sports feature

Skyline is known on the football field for winning state championships. Players are making sure the Spartans are known off the field as well.

On the gridiron, few high schools football programs in the state can match the tradition at Skyline. But for the current group of Spartans, it is the tradition away from the field that matters most.

The 2013 Skyline upheld an important part of the program’s mission last weekend, helping residents of Tent City 4 relocate from Kirkland to Redmond Family Church, which will be home to roughly 100 individuals at any given time over the next 90 days, until the roaming camp relocates again.

Senior captain Cameron Saffle said previous experiences donating his time at a food bank and the importance prior classes placed on the community service aspect of Skyline football have created a culture of giving within the same program that has captured the past two 4A state titles and seven since 2000.

“It gives us perspective,” Saffle said. “We had a lot of great leaders in the past. This is an expectation.”

Fellow captains Reggie Long and Grant Evans said while life in Sammamish can create “a bubble” of security among affluent residents and classmates, the team has made a conscious effort to engage the community during service outings.

“It just helps us see what other people go through,” Evans said. “We all know it is important to give back.”

The camp, which is open for stays as short as a night, includes a community kitchen, mobile shower unit with hot water and electricity (portable toilets are also on-site) and two community tents for incoming residents to transition in before obtaining one of 80 individual plots. Couples tents make up one area and ShareWell, the organization that operates the camp, has a committee system in place for infractions that may take place within the camp.

Redmond Family Church pastor Todd Puckett said his congregation serves several TC4 residents and was thrilled with the opportunity to host the camp, which he said is the realization of their mission.

“We’re just looking for opportunities to serve people,” he said. “Our whole church is just wrapping our arms around it.”

While homeless encampments can leave nearby residents fearing for cleanliness and safety, Puckett said the focus of his parish is instead understanding.

“If we as a people would learn not to work out of fear, that is the biggest thing,” he said. “They are amazing people.”

Food, clothing, blankets and other donations will help sustain the camp before it relocates again in a few months, but Move Master and Tent City resident Robert Bowen, who has spent time in three states over the past three years, said bringing in an entire football team of volunteers made all the difference for a smooth transition on moving day.

“They made a huge difference,” Bowen said. “This would have taken hours longer.”