A Ram Taking Care of Rams

Ayden and fellow volunteers who distributed B.Boxes during the holidays.
Ayden and fellow volunteers who distributed B.Boxes during the holidays.

Colorado State safety Ayden Hector has a passion for taking care of his fellow Rams, both on and off the football field. He closed out this season’s final game with five tackles, a forced fumble, and one sack in a shut-out victory over New Mexico. And though stats provide useful insights into a single game or season, they don’t tell the whole story of a player’s effort and commitment to teammates and community. These intangibles often show up between plays, on the sidelines, and in Ayden’s case, inside CSU’s Rams Against Hunger Food Pantry.

Ayden Hector points to a fellow volunteer hading out food
Ayden and a fellow volunteer at a Rams Against Hunger mobile food pantry event.

When Ayden arrived at CSU in 2022, he brought more than his talents as a student-athlete. He also brought B.Box – short for Birthday Box – a charitable program that provides a gift of every-day essentials and party favors to students facing housing challenges or food insecurity. Each box (or bag) contains items such as gloves, hats, socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, and a fun gift like candy or a gift card. An important aspect of the program is that B.Boxes aren’t tied to actual birthdays. Instead, the idea is that each person deserves to be celebrated without regard to their real birthdate.

Ayden’s brother created B.Box more than 10 years ago in their home state of Washington. “I took over when he went off to college and have kept it going ever since,” says Ayden. “Instead of making deliveries to our local teen homeless shelter in Seattle, I now deliver B.Boxes to the Rams Against Hunger Food Pantry on campus to share with the CSU community.”

“Helping out has always been part of our upbringing,” says Ayden, who reached out to Basic Needs Program Manager Michael Buttram shortly after arriving on campus last June. “I told him about B.Box and he was excited and supportive from the very start.”

Michael Buttram puts his arm around Ayden Hector at a mobile food pantry event
Ayden, at right, with Michael Buttram

“Ayden is an amazing young man,” says Buttram, “who despite a busy schedule with academics and athletics, finds time to partner with the RAH Pantry on his B.Boxes project.”

The new Rams Against Hunger Food Pantry opened its doors on January 29, 2022, in the General Services Building on the main CSU campus. Offering a client-choice shopping experience similar to a grocery store, it has served 2,173 unique visitors so far this year, most of whom are full-time undergraduate students, but everyone is welcome.

Operating from The Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE), the Rams Against Hunger program also provides a meal-swipe program, pocket pantries, and in-person assistance with navigating federal aid eligibility. Ayden volunteered at one of the program’s mobile food pantry distribution events last summer and hopes to help out at more events now that the football season is over.

In the meantime, he’ll keep helping Rams through B.Box, which has delivered thousands of care packages since its establishment. “On Christmas day alone, we hand out over 500 boxes, and that is an annual tradition we will do again this year,” asserts Ayden.