Students from the Red Lion Area High School football team will board a bus for New Jersey this morning to see what it really means to thankful, coach Pat Conrad said.

In the days that the district had off following Hurricane Sandy, Conrad said hearing of the devastation in neighboring states got him thinking: What if they could send the football players to help?

After making some phone calls and collecting supplies, 44 players, three managers and a couple coaches are ready to board a Bailey Coach bus for New Jersey by 5:30 a.m. today. They chose the date because the students will have off school for the Thanksgiving holiday, he said.

"I thought it would be good for the kids to learn that there's a lot to be thankful for and there are people that are a lot more disadvantaged than we are," Conrad said the night before the big trip.

Conrad said the Federal Emergency Management Agency put him in touch with members of The Church of Grace and Peace in Toms River, N.J.

The Rev. Walter Healy wrote on the church's website: "First, let me say I am happy to report we have not experienced the loss of life nor has anyone from the church body at Grace and Peace been physically harmed in any serious way."

Being spared of severe damage, Healy wrote, the church was pairing with Samaritan's Purse to bring recovery efforts to neighbors.


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Conrad said while the team didn't know exactly what they would be doing today in New Jersey, they are expecting to help with debris removal, fixing things up and maybe unloading tractor-trailers filled with supplies.

The high school students received their own donations -- with breakfast being provided for the players by Dunkin' Donuts. The players also are taking items to be given to hurricane victims, such as 40 cases of water from Apple Ford, shampoo and toiletries from a local beauty salon and numerous items from parents.

Bailey Coach also donated the bus that will be taking the students to and from the site.

"We got a great group of kids, and they were more than willing to reach out and volunteer," Conrad said. "I'm proud of them for being eager to help."

@ralefever; 771-2088