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Murray Journal

Desire to Serve Nourishes Food Drive Soccer Camp

Aug 03, 2016 08:16AM ● By Bryan Scott

Murray resident Andy Christensen organized a soccer camp in June called Kicks 4 Cans, where the entry fee was an item of food donated to the Utah Food Bank. —Lindsay Christensen

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Murray, Utah - Once, during a massive rainstorm, Andy Christensen noticed a few baby ducklings in the pond outside his apartment. Having heard on the news about the dangers of these storms for animals, Andy decided to help out the distressed ducklings by putting them in his backpack until the storm subsided.

“He’s always wanted to give back to his community,” Carla Christensen, Andy’s mom, said. “He has a tender heart.”

Giving back to the community is exactly what Andy had on his mind when he started his new endeavor.

In June, Andy organized a four-day soccer camp called Kicks 4 Cans for kids in the community. The entry fee for the clinic? Food, which was donated to local food banks.

“I loved it, even with how poorly I marketed it, I was hoping for at least five kids that first day,” Andy said.

The first-year clinic had 33 kids attend while raising over 200 non-perishable food items weighing 154 pounds. Kids had to bring at least one item of food to enter in a clinic where kids learned skills such as passing and dribbling and received treats at the end of each two-hour session.

Kids from ages five to 11 participated in the four-day camp.

When Andy was in high school he helped run a clinic with his soccer team and said he thought it would be great to do it again, not only for the community, but also for the coaches involved.

“We’re coaching kids, kinda giving back to the community, and it would help the high school players – the coaches – get some volunteer hours and service for resumes or college,” Andy said.

And Andy did just that having his younger sister and brother Nate, who recently graduated Murray High, along with a few other players from the high school team coach groups of kids during the camp.

Working with and seeing the evolution of not only the kids, but the teenage coaches as well, turned out to be Andy’s favorite part of the camp.

“Just seeing everyone have fun during the whole thing, they were just good attitudes. It was fun to see the coaches interact as well, seeing them having fun with the kids and the kids looking up to them,” Andy said.

It’s a communal union created that Andy said is special in Murray and necessary for any community to thrive.

“Community spirit is just so important to help raise good kids, to help get through tough times, when you have more friends you have more resources,” Andy said. “So if there’s more community spirit there’s less ill-will and more good feeling towards each other.”

Andy’s charitable personality maybe can’t be traced back to any one moment, but Carla offered a time when Andy recognized the importance of empathy.

Carla, a former soccer player herself, was coaching Andy’s soccer team when he was eight-years-old. With their team winning by a large margin, Andy scored a goal and proceeded to do a cartwheel to celebrate.

“I yanked him out and said ‘you do not ever show up a team like that, be respectful, you never know when you’ll be on the other end of that,’” Carla said.

“That really just humbled me…and taught me a lot about not drawing to much attention to myself but rather to the team,” Andy said.

Describing the whole camp experience as one of his “mini dreams,” Andy said he learned how essential other people are to put something like this together.

“You can’t do it alone, I had a lot of help with the coaches and the [Murray] parks and rec department, my mom brought treats at the end of every day for the kids so the power of teamwork was really important there,” Andy said.

The credit for bringing the camp together will ultimately lie with Andy. Something, Carla said, he shuns.

“He would never want to talk about himself and what he’s done,” Carl Smith, Andy’s grandpa, said.

What Andy’s done includes being a former soccer star at Murray High, winning three state titles with his club team, winning the Prince Charming award in high school, serving an LDS mission to Hungary and receiving an academic scholarship to the University of Utah where he’ll graduate next year with an English major and History minor.

All of that may pale in comparison to Andy’s natural desire to give back.

Carla said she wishes her and her husband could take credit for how Andy turned out but it’s more Andy’s innate nature.

“I think he just came wired that way and we tried not to wreck him too much,” Carla said.

Whether it’s ducks or children, Andy’s wiring is designed to help.