A group of West Virginia University basketball alumni showed this weekend that the old saying of “once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer” extends well beyond the reaches of the court at the Coliseum.
Da’Sean Butler, along with several of his teammates from WVU’s Final Four season, worked together on Saturday to help bring some relief to the people of Mannington who have been dealing with the impact of devastating floods for the past week.
“I saw numerous pictures and it just reminded me of last year when the flood happened,” Butler said. “It’s tough to see people in those situations because it’s something that is out of their hands and there’s nothing they can do about it but just get their family and take what they can and go.”
Heavy rain late Friday, July 29, and into Saturday morning caused conditions that led to Governor Jim Justice declaring a State of Emergency in eight counties.
As the floodwaters receded, Butler saw communities struggling to put their lives back together. He decided to take action in order to provide aid in the cleanup efforts.
“The first thing I thought about was the children there. That’s one of the things I was telling people when they wanted to donate supplies: Make sure you bring tons of diapers,” Butler said. “You’d be surprised how many babies are out there with their parents and the house is flooded, all of these things are flooded, and it’s super important for them to have those things.”
Butler set up drop-off points at Playoffs Bar and Grill on Spruce Street in Morgantown and at Popeye’s in Sabraton in an effort to collect supplies and monetary donations that he could bring to Mannington to help clean and rebuild. Some of the most needed items include mops, trash bags, brooms, buckets, shovels, diapers, squeegees, baby wipes, Pine-Sol, undergarments, disinfectant wipes and socks.
Butler wasn’t alone in his efforts as former teammates like Kevin Jones, Darryl “Truck” Bryant, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla were also in attendance.
“The guys I asked to come are the guys that are always the first in line to help me out and I’m always the first in line to help them out with anything that they’re doing,” Butler said. “They’re here in pure support of the people and the cause that we’re here for. These are guys that love the people here and this is what West Virginia is. We’re here to help.”
Butler has created what he calls a “non-profit-in-the-making,” the Give a Hoop Foundation, in order to continue to give back to the people who supported him throughout his collegiate career and still today as he plays basketball professionally. His goal is to begin providing local children with school supplies throughout the year and gifts around the holidays.
Just this past week, Butler donated school supplies to North Elementary School in Morgantown through the Give a Hoop Foundation.
“When you have everything you feel like you wanted and everything you worked your entire life to get, which I have at this point in my life, I feel like it’s important to give back whatever you can just to show that you do care,” Butler said of his foundation. “Every kid doesn’t start as even as we would want them to in the world, so I kind of felt like I wanted to do my part to make sure everybody can have school supplies and to give kids gifts.”