Barkley to lead group of 15 Trojans to Haiti
April, 3, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
USC quarterback Matt Barkley is going to Haiti this summer on a volunteer mission to help build houses, and he's bringing 14 other USC Trojans with him.
Barkley, an experienced foreign volunteer with trips to Nigeria and South Africa under his belt in the last few years, said his parents have been planning the six-day trip for some time. They recently thought to invite a number of the other players on the team who expressed interest in coming along too.
"We wanted to do something one more time while I was in college before life gets pretty crazy and all that stuff," Barkley said on Tuesday after the Trojans' practice. "I've grown up with these guys and played together with them for four years. I've known guys like Devon and T.J. for even longer than that. This came up, and we decided it'd be a great opportunity to go down there.
"It ended up being a little more guys than we originally planned, but I'm all for it. We're going to build houses. It's going to be awesome."
According to a USC news release, the team of Trojans will build a minimum of three houses and transport more than 2,000 pounds of supplies for orphanages and schools as part of the May deployment of Hope Force International, an organization that specializes in quick strike disaster relief.
USC defensive end Devon Kennard, a senior, has wanted to go with Barkley on a trip like this since he found about Christmas 2010 trip to Nigeria. So he started talking to Barkley about this summer.
"I asked him if he was doing anything this summer and that's kind of where it all started," Kennard said on Tuesday. "More guys wanted to come and we decided to do it as a whole group."
The full list of participants: Barkley, Kennard, Robert Woods, Khaled Holmes, Nickell Robey, Hayes Pullard, Kyle Negrete, Scott Starr, Josh Shaw, Cyrus Hobbi, Kevin Greene, Max Wittek, Cody Kessler and walk-on Luke Freeman.
Negrete accompanied Barkley to Nigeria in 2010. For many of the others, the trip will be the first of its kind. And some members of the group, like Starr and Shaw, are in their first semester in the program, so it'll be an opportunity to get to know some of the others.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us," Kennard said. "Most of us haven't been out of the country and this is an opportunity for us to help some other people. Most of us are Christians, and we're going to get a lot from the experience."
Barkley said he thought the experience could benefit the entire team.
"I think it's going to bring our team even closer together, just because we're going to experience serving outside of the football field and grow closer together, spending all day every day together," Barkley said. " It's just an opportunity for them -- and for me -- to see a part of the world we haven't seen and plight and people that have nothing.
"It'll be good for us to see that. It gives us perspective."