CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMSports) – Members of Truett-McConnell College athletic teams spent 5,314 hours serving local communities during the 2013-14 school year, nearly 4,000 more hours than the previous year.
From packing backpacks with food for needy children to reading to elementary aged students, TMC athletes have made serving their local communities a priority.
“At Truett-McConnell, community service is a vital part of our educational process for our student-athletes,” said Truett-McConnell’s Director of Athletics Dr. Stacy Hall. Hall encourages each athletic team to invest into the local community because “it allows our student-athletes to become familiar with real life issues facing our community and puts them in a position to minister to others’ needs.”
Building relationships is another reason Hall encourages the athlete’s involvement: “It allows us to build relationships throughout the community which in turn, provides us opportunities to share the gospel with them.”
The athletic department’s student led community service organization, Bears in the Community, helped lead the way by managing each athletic team’s collaborative service efforts: “From yard work to mentor-ships to food service, we feel responsible to give back to a community that is so supportive of our school and athletic programs,” said the organizations president and senior baseball player, Hayden Fleming.
“We see our roles both on campus and in the community as platforms to reach out to others who are in need and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such a great group of athletes who have answered the call to serve others.”
The women’s soccer team fronted the entire athletic department’s efforts with nearly 2,000 service hours. “I am blessed to have such a strong and wonderful group of ladies as I do,” said head women’s soccer coach David McDowell. “These ladies are committed to serving others and impacting people with the gospel; I believe their service is an outpouring of where their hearts are, and their acts of love are reflective of their relationship with Christ.”
Brooke Reed, a sophomore and member of the Lady Bears Soccer Team, shared the why behind her team’s acts of service as she referenced Matthew 20:28 which says, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” “We don’t just do community service in order to gain recognition for doing good,” Reed said, “we do it because God calls us to take care of the poor and needy.”
Reed was with a group who visited the University of South Alabama Women’s and Children’s Hospital earlier in their season where members of the Lady Bears Soccer Team spent time playing games with children. “It was so rewarding seeing the big smiles on the kids’ faces when we walked into their room with a game of some sort,” she said. “Hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles was just a wonderful thing to experience.”
The Men’s Cross Country team spent nearly 800 hours involved in local service; one project that stuck out to Bears Cross Country runner and a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship contestant, Luis Gonzalez, was filling backpacks with canned food and encouraging messages alongside Straight Street Ministries in Gainesville, Ga., which would later be delivered to local schools. Gonzalez said filling the backpacks reminded him that “there are so many people right in our back yard that need help and how a few hours of one’s time can mean so much.”
“Things like this are important because I know what it is like growing up in a situation where you don’t necessarily have everything,” Gonzalez said. “A helping hand from a kind stranger means so much.”
Other teams participated in various projects such as: passing out food in a local food drive, compiling Christmas stockings for children, canvasing neighborhoods, baking goods for a local ministry, volunteering at Choices pregnancy center, conducting golf lessons for local special education classes, working alongside Habitat for Humanity, distributing food at a local food bank, and many others.
If you know of a local service opportunity in need of volunteers, visit the community service request page on tmcbears.com.