Barkley, USC teammates ready to help in Haiti

Several USC football players, including quarterback Matt Barkley, are scheduled to go through graduation ceremonies Friday before joining a group of 16 Trojans players who will depart for Haiti later that night.

The contingent, organized by Barkley’s father Les, will spend a week building houses and moving supplies to an area still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

To help finance the trip, players sent letters to family and friends requesting donations. The group also received donations that were made through Hope Force International, the nonprofit disaster relief organization overseeing the trip, Les Barkley said.

Les Barkley, who traveled to Haiti as part of a relief effort in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, said he hopes the trip will provide players with a new perspective.

“I’ve found that for young men like this to go down and to work hard and leave something lasting is important,” he said. “It’s something that is bigger than themselves.

“My hope is they’re fueled by it and that they feel empowered so when they get back they’ll have even more sensitivity to the needs of people not only there but here.”

Many of the players finished finals on Wednesday. They will have Thursday off and then depart for Haiti on Friday. Summer session classes begin the day after they return.

Sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler, who will turn 19 on Friday, said he was looking forward to the spiritual and humanitarian elements of the trip.

“To know you’re doing something for someone else and helping to make someone’s life, in a way, better is awesome,” he said.

–Gary Klein