The Lady Jets soccer team is spending their off season bettering their local community through service.
Morgan Houston, who graduated in December with her bachelor’s in psychology and is now working towards her Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in leadership, is one of the many soccer players who have volunteered for this service project.
Helping out at Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry, located at Rolling Hills Church of God, has been impactful for Houston.
For Houston, it is reassuring to know a handful of her teammates are helping families simply by giving a few hours of their time every other Monday.
“I have learned that not everyone is privileged enough to have everything they need to live. But this service project has opened my eyes to the number of people who want to help those in need. It’s moving to see how many people are willing to help,” said Houston.
The food pantry provides a box filled with fruit, vegetables, poultry, dairy and anything else it has available. Volunteers help build the boxes, fill them and deliver them to the patrons’ cars.
Dylan Gruntzel, head coach of the women’s soccer team, partnered with Ginny Willey, the team’s spiritual companion, to help set up this service project. Players from Wichita wanted to give back to their community, while those who aren’t from Wichita wanted to contribute to the community they are now a part of.
“I’m glad that they see their time at Newman as more than just academics and soccer. They have made a massive impact, not only in the soccer community but also in the Wichita community as a whole. They see the impact they can have on others and love to help make Wichita better,” said Gruntzel.
Working hard off the field while meeting members of the community allows the teammates to connect on a deeper level. For many of the players, it isn’t just a soccer team but a family.
Makenzie Shay, a sophomore majoring in nursing, channeled her competitiveness into her volunteer work and service to others.
“We obviously work well as a team, and we were driven to complete as much work as possible. The experience didn’t just give me quality time with my teammates but also gave us satisfaction and appreciation for life,” said Shay.
“To me, volunteering means giving back. As humans, we are responsible for the care of one another. Each of us deserves help, kindness and generosity. The soccer team gives back little by little. I think I can speak for all of us by saying that helping even one person would make our volunteering efforts worth it.”
For Houston, the time spent in service has opened her heart and mind to the struggles of others in need.
“It makes me more grateful and I realize how fortunate I am to have food on my table,” said Houston.
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