By Brendan Owens
The holidays are fast approaching and with that, the Eagle athletes at Northeast Texas Community College are starting to get in the spirit of the season by giving back.
Northeast Athletic Director Josh Stewart said volunteering helps the players become involved in their local community.
“I think we as a department are very fortunate to be able to contribute some time to a great area like Titus, Camp and Morris counties,” he said. “Our players and coaches enjoy getting the chance to get away from the practice field this time of year and get involved with some causes that are beneficial to others.”
The NTCC baseball team will be aiding the Salvation Army this year by ringing bells outside of the local Walmart for donations.
“It is great for our program for others to see that we are getting involved and making a difference in the community,” Assistant Baseball Coach Aaron Gilbreath said. “It’s easy for baseball players to become prideful and not worry about others.
I think it really benefits our guys and all of our fans that come out and watch us.
It makes me feel really great that we go out and do these things in our community.”
In addition to ringing bells, the team will also visit local elementary schools to read books to children. Baseball player Jonathan Soberanes, who participated in the event last year, said it feels great to be able to give back.
“You can see the look in their faces,” he said. “They feel so special that we take time out of our day to come give them our undivided attention.”
Player Daniel Nitikovic said he was looking forward to being part of a team that allows him to give back to the community.
“I am very excited to get to go read to the kids or ring the bell for the Salvation Army,” he said. “I like to do activities like this, because it makes me feel special, and I feel like I really make someone’s day.”
Another athletic program at Northeast has also been serving the local community as well. Throughout the semester, the Northeast softball team visits Titus County Cares (TCC) every Tuesday to pack food for kids that don’t have food over the weekends.
TCC’s backpack club Food4Kids, sponsored by the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler, fills sacks with food on a weekly basis to distribute to area schools for low income families. According to the TCC website, “The program is designed to prevent childhood hunger and provide each child the opportunity to succeed in school and life.”
Softball player Morgen Miller said, “It feels like I’m doing something for more than myself.” Kymber Green also agreed with Miller about being able to lend a helping hand.
“It makes me feel fortunate with everything I have,” she said.
Stewart said he sees the players’ dedication to give back to the surrounding community as a way to build character.
“The Salvation Army projects as well as various Titus County Cares projects help our players to see how they can be a positive influence for others, and hopefully it helps them to grow as young adults,” Stewart said.