December 28, 2006

Football not the only focus in Houston

HOUSTON -- With Willie Wildcat leading the way, 13 selected Kansas State football players and two assistant coaches entered the DePelchin Children's Center early Wednesday afternoon. They showered smiling kids with hugs, handshakes and purple trinkets. Donned in his white jersey, senior wide receiver Yamon Figurs smiled, too. To the senior wide receiver, maybe it meant a little bit more.

"You know," Figurs began, "I basically grew up in a Boys and Girls Club. It was pretty much my life."

Since 1892, DePelchin has provided help to Houston-area families as a means of preventing and treating the social or emotional problems of children and teens. A home to 60 children under the care of the state of Texas, DePelchin also currently has 27,000 clients in the area and is a base for foster care and adoption services, said Jerry Heinold, DePelchin's manager of marketing and communication.

Wednesday was the first time the center had been named a beneficiary for a sports organization or bowl event. The hour-long visit by K-State marked the its next-to-last event prior to meeting No. 16 Rutgers in the inaugural Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.

"We're really happy," Heinold said. "It's an incredible experience for us."

A white banner hung from a second-story balcony overlooking the lobby. It read: "WELCOME KANSAS STATE WILDCATS!" Nearby, a plastic Santa Claus was reading his list while Mrs. Santa sat and knitted a stocking. About five feet from the Christmas display that featured fake snow was a decal on a window adjacent to the DePelchin Children's Center front door. The decal clearly showed handguns were not welcome inside the building.

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