It figures to be a big year for Thomas Allen.
The sophomore guard on the Nebraska men's basketball team looks like a key piece as the Huskers try to break through to the NCAA Tournament. He'll be counted on to be a difference-maker on the court for one of the most anticipated seasons in Husker history.
Off the court this summer, Allen is already making a difference. He has organized a back-to-school drive for Everett Elementary School in Lincoln, and will be on hand Saturday to help collect donations for the upcoming school year.
"The kids here, I know they love the Husker athletes. So, doing something like this for them, it means a lot to them," Allen said. "They're at the games; they see us around and stuff like that. So that's why I'm doing it — for them."
Everett, located south of downtown Lincoln at 1123 C Street, is a Title I school, meaning it receives federal funding to assist low-income students who attend the school. More than 450 of Everett's 525 students in kindergarten through fifth grade receive free and reduced lunches. More than 40 percent of students participate in the English Language Learners (English as a second language) program, and 78 percent of the students are from minority families.
Allen's fundraiser is scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Grace Chapel at 16th and A streets (1345 S. 16th Street). Items needed are school supplies from crayons, pencils, and highlighters to notebooks, backpacks and tissues; and new or gently used clothing items.
Next Week August 4. If you have any thing you want to donate @ me or dm me! Mainly need school items. Husker Athletes if you have any gear you don’t want male or female hit me up. Come Support.. everything is appreciated 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/rJKVbqDG7t— Thomas Allen (@ThomasAllen12__) July 23, 2018
Allen first tweeted out details July 23. In the days since, the response has gained steam on social media and throughout Lincoln and the surrounding area. The Nebraska women's soccer team made a large donation of school supplies; Country Swim School near Lincoln is collecting items to donate. Even Allen's church in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, is sending a shipment of donations.
"That's cool," Allen said. "Because my mom, she loves this type of stuff, so she shared it on her (social media) page, and it took off from there."
After researching which schools in Lincoln needed assistance, Allen enlisted the help of Nebraska director of basketball operations Greg Eaton, who attends Grace Chapel, to help organize things. Grace Chapel is just a few blocks from Everett. After working with Nebraska's compliance office to make sure his work was within NCAA rules, Allen sent out his tweet.
This isn't the first time Allen has spearheaded such a project. As a senior in high school at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, he put together a fundraiser featuring his program and another school that raised nearly $3,000. He did similar work while playing AAU ball for the Garner Road program in North Carolina.
There isn't a goal Allen wants to reach in terms of money raised or items gathered.
"I just want everybody to show up and support, and go from there," he said.