JIM PETERS: Schools, teams join in the spirit of giving

2012-12-20T18:00:00Z 2012-12-21T01:19:05Z JIM PETERS: Schools, teams join in the spirit of givingJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
December 20, 2012 6:00 pm  • 

'Tis better to give than to receive.

When I was a kid, I never quite got a handle on that whole notion about Christmas. I much preferred to get presents. I still loathe shopping, but as you get older and clothing becomes the standard gift, you gain an appreciation for bringing joy to others, whether it's your own family or somebody else.

Checking around the last few days, it warmed my heart to find out about all the glad tidings that schools, coaches and teams are spreading this holiday season.

At Boone Grove, the Student-Athlete Advisory Club went to Opportunity Enterprises in Valparaiso to wrap presents and decorate their cafeteria. The group also coordinated a canned food drive, and will deliver the items today to OE. They are also making snowflakes as part of a project for Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Their artistic endeavors will be sent to a Newtown church to decorate the school before the children return in January.

At Wheeler, tennis coach Mike Rosta, who is also the Union Township School Corporation social worker, is in his 16th year running the Christmas with Santa program. The event, which takes place Saturday, will treat 220 families to a ham and turkey lunch with Old St. Nick. Each child has an individual sit-down with the big elf, receiving $40 to $50 in presents, and the family also is given a food basket. Money is accumulated through donations and corporate contributions. Students help with wrapping and delivering presents to the auditorium.

"It's amazing what just (pocket) change can do for you," Rosta said.

The school also conducts its own food and toy drive, with principal Don Gandy holding a silent auction to generate money for the campaign.

Last week, the Kouts boys basketball team went to a nursing home after practice to sing carols. While they can handle a ball better than a music note, Mustangs coach Marty Gaff said the folks simply appreciate the company.

Throughout December, the Valpo girls basketball team gave their half of the 50/50 raffle from games to the student council gift drive, part of several civic-minded activities coordinated by coach Jeanette Gray. The parents of team members Alyssa and Kayla Gates own the Culver's in town and will serve dinner to families in need on Christmas Eve.

Marquette got the ball rolling last month at its boys basketball intrasquad scrimmage, where admission was a winter clothing item. Athletic Director Anthony Mytas said two tubs of coats, hats and gloves were collected, in addition to food that was donated to Catholic Charities.

Portage's Captains Council did shifts ringing bells for the Salvation Army outside stores in the city. They also organized the purchase of presents for students whose families are struggling financially.

That's just a sample from a list of good deeds that goes on and on, though I think you get the point. Sometimes, we wrongly brand teenagers as being self-centered and myopic to the world around them. Many of them are making a positive difference in their little corner of the world. Like Rosta said about those nickels, dimes and quarters, it all adds up.

Merry Christmas to all.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

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