The Arkansas Tech University softball program has recently been awarded the 2020 Helper Helper team challenge award. Competing against 63 other teams at all levels of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Golden Sons completed more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service during the community engagement competition.
Makenzie Addis, a psychology graduate student from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said there is a reason the team is so committed to community service. “Our team continues to put so much effort into our community service because we love being the best,” she said.
“When we put our time into something we give it our full effort. I think that a lot of it stems from Coach [Kristina] McSweeney encouraging us to keep getting hours so we can stay the leaders for the university and nation,” Addis said.
“We also are fueled by the support each area of the community we volunteer for gives us. They are very appreciative of our efforts and make sure that we know our time was well spent. Along with that when we leave each place, we can see the impact we have made there.”
Addis said the team has volunteered for a variety of causes during her time at Tech.
“There have been a multitude of projects our team has completed and participated in over the years. To name a few we have assisted in the local triathlons, elementary school fall festivals, cooking for the Ronald McDonald House, and the RussVegas marathon to name a few. One year we were assigned buddies at Oakland Elementary School where we would eat lunch and play with them at recess.”
“COVID did not give us indoor opportunities, so we had to get creative last year. We did a beautification week where we cleaned up trash in different parks, along with a canned food drive for the food pantry, and a feminine hygiene drive,” she added.
Brooke Prewitt, graduate student studying school counseling and leadership from Cleburne, Texas, also had similar thoughts on the award given to the softball team.
“Our favorite things to be a part of is helping with the schools around the community. In years past we have done high-five Fridays at the elementary schools, helped work fall festivals, and this year we are getting the opportunity to help with an annual kickball tournament. We love to have the opportunities to make a positive impact on the youth in our community,” Prewitt said.
“We also have been big with weekly drives to help support the community around us; we have been a part of hygiene, canned food, and sock drives, which we just completed to help raise 1,863 pairs of socks for Joseph’s House.”
Prewitt gives advice for other groups who are seeing community service: “I would give the advice of putting your heart into the hours of service. It’s not about what you get out of it, it’s what you put in and how it impacts those around you. If you put a positive heart and support into your service, then you will see just how great of a positive impact you have made,” she said.
“Our program is built on the ground of putting our hours of volunteering on top with everything else, it’s what we pride ourselves in.” Prewitt said.
Prewitt continues, noting the softball team plans to continue to defend their title in volunteer hours with all hopes of making the community a better and safer place.