Harrisonburg, Va., November 15, 2011- In conjunction with the seasonal fall celebrations, the James Madison track and field team visited the Sunnyside Retirement Community for an annual fundraising event where student-athletes worked with the residents to create apple butter for sale at the annual Apple Butter Festival in November.

The student-athletes formed a connection with Sunnyside through Michelle Savarese, a team member who regularly volunteers at the retirement community.

"I started volunteering at Sunnyside to get volunteer hours for graduate school in physical therapy. I heard about the Apple Butter Festival that Sunnyside hosts and that they were looking for a lot of volunteers and I thought it would be a good opportunity for the team to get involved," said senior distance runner Savarese.

Six members of the track and field team participated in the event and worked various shifts from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day began with setting up the area and materials necessary for boiling the apple butter. Additional tasks during the event included pre-inspecting the apples indoors before carrying them outside for boiling.

The athletes worked alongside the residents with the tedious task of stirring the apples into a large cauldron. When the recipe was completed, the participants canned the apple butter before cleaning up the facilities at the end of the afternoon.

Sunnyside Retirement Community was chartered in 1912 in Danville, Va. The organization moved to Harrisonburg in 1955 and opened with 20 residents. The community is located on 100 acres of land and offers a variety of living spaces to the residents. Monthly events are scheduled to promote a sense of community and belonging.

"I am grateful to the Sunnyside Community for allowing our student-athletes to help with such an important fund raising event," commented track and field head coach Ta' Frias.