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Four Years at the Mount

Senior year

Adopt a Family

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

(12/2015) As you may know, I am a division I athlete. I am also the president of the Mount St. Maryís University Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and last year, I was the Community Service Committee Chair. As such, there are many demands placed on me time-wise, as well as physically, mentally, and financially.

Many of the things we do as student athletes are tiring and push us to our limits, but are very rewarding. Early morning practices, classes all day followed by a second practice, games on the weekends, away trips that we must miss classes for; they all cause a great deal of stress, but also give us great rewards in the end. However, the most rewarding thing we do as student athletes has nothing to do with practices, games, personal records, wins, or even our sports at all.

Community service, by far, gives us the greatest joy at the end of the day. It allows us to give back to the communities that have helped us grow in to the successful young people that we are. It is a chance for us to help others to also be the best people that they can be.

We always do community service initiatives with our specific teams, but there are special occasions when we come together as "The Mount" to make an even greater difference. For example, each year, SAAC hosts clothing and food drives for athletes to donate, as teams we volunteer our time at soup kitchens and working with children, showing them the sport we love. The holiday season is one of our most involved times, and is also home to my favorite holiday charity we do, Adopt a Family.

Adopt a Family is a nation-wide and very well known charity that assigns families to groups or other families who want to take part, and that group buys the gifts that the family asks for. The student athletic advisory committee works closely with a local church that puts a special twist on the classic Adopt a Family tradition.

We assign each team to a different age group, and they donate those toys to the church. The families then get to come to the church and "shop" for the toys that they want for their kids. It allows the families to remain anonymous, but also allows them to keep the job of getting the toys for their children. Last year, the swim team had the category of boys aged 6-8, and we were able to donate the most toys of the entire student athlete population. As a student-athlete body, we were able to donate over $1000 worth of toys to local families in need.

This year, as the holiday season yet again kicks off, we started our charity work with a clothing drive in October. Following that, we held a weeklong can drive before Thanksgiving to help struggling families celebrate one of the most important family nights of the year, country-wide. Finally, we spread holiday cheer throughout the month of December by running the annual Adopt a Family toy drive with joy and passion in our hearts. We hope to exceed our donation totals from last year and put smiles on even more young faces when the time comes.

I know that the holidays mean a great deal to many people, in many different ways. However one of the greatest things to me about the holiday season in general is the ability to tell our loved ones how we feel about them, and I think that is why I feel so strongly about our Adopt a Family adaptation here at the Mount. Community is one of our four pillars for several reasons. One of those reasons is that we are a fantastic community in ourselves, helping each other toward success. The other is that, as a whole, we reach out to those around us to further our nation.

The magic in a childís eyes when she opens a gift that you got her that says "from Santa Claus" is something that should never be taken away. It may sound clichť, but children are the future and deserve to grow in a loving and special environment. I think that for parents, knowing that their children wonít have that must be devastating. I cannot help but put myself in their shoes and imagine how I would feel, and I would hope that in that case, someone would reach out and help me. I imagine that there is a great loss of dignity in not being able to provide for oneís family, and I like to believe that we can help give that back, even if it is only through our small donations.

The holiday season is a time for giving, a time for love, and a time to spread cheer. This season, help spread those happy feelings to someone around you who is in need. There are people in our very neighborhood that will be struggling this year to put food on the table, provide their families with warm clothing, or try to give their children a "normal" Christmas. However, they donít have to be.

This holiday season is the time to donate or volunteer with whatever charity it is that speaks to you. Whether it be through Adopt a Family, a soup kitchen, a canned food drive, or an old coat drive, there is a way for you to help change the way your community celebrate the holidays!

Read other articles by Katie Powell