'Tis the season
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Each year the University of Iowa softball team gets together for a party, has a Secret Santa gift exchange, and celebrates the holiday season. But this year the party will be different. Rather than spending money on one another, the Hawkeyes decided to give back.
The team made the decision to get into the holiday spirit and make someone else's holiday season a little bit brighter by adopting a family of six through Children and Families of Iowa. The adopted family is made up of a mother, father, a 3-year-old girl, a 6-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl, and a nine-month-old boy.
UI assistant coach Adrianna Baggetta, who initially proposed the idea to the team, believes it will be a great life experience for the girls and a way for them to give back.
"Our kids probably get more playing softball at the University of Iowa than this family gets from anyone all year in T-shirts, bats, balls, and gear," says Baggetta. "It's good for them to use their platform as an athlete to give back."
Each Hawkeye donated a minimum of $20, which will go toward fulfilling the family's wish list. Items on the list included toys for the children to open over the holidays and everyday items such as pots and pans, towels, socks, winter coats, and diapers. The Hawkeyes began the process by setting a goal to provide at least $100 per person in the family.
"It's awesome for our team because normally we just do a Secret Santa exchange," says junior Megan Blank. "This year, instead of getting little gifts for each other, we're taking all the money we would've used and giving it to a family who has less than we could ever imagine.
"We can do this one thing to make their lives a little bit easier. Every little bit makes a difference, and it's cool to know that we are going to be a part of that for this family."
With the money the team donated and collected from other UI athletics department staff members, the softball program was able to exceed its $600 goal. The Hawkeyes shopped for the items the family included on its wish list on Saturday, and Sunday afternoon at the team's annual holiday party in place of the annual gift exchange, the team spent time wrapping the gifts they purchased for the family.
"Personally, it is a great feeling to help out a family that is less fortunate than we are," says redshirt freshman Shayla Starkenburg. "Using our money to give them gifts has gotten us in the Christmas spirit a little bit more because we're helping out someone else."
"It's so much better to give to other people because we are so privileged to have what we have," says UI head coach Marla Looper. "With privilege comes some responsibility, and part of that is helping others. We have that opportunity and adopting this family is one of those chances we have to give back."
While the team does not get to meet the family or see them open the gifts and the family will never know who made their holiday list a reality, the Hawkeyes know they were able to make a big difference this holiday season.