While Thanksgiving is celebrated on a single Thursday in November, the gratitude, kindness and giving spirit of these people in the Williamsburg-area community shines throughout the year, touching lives near and far.
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Giving back part of Tribe’s routine
College of William and Mary women’s gymnastics coach Mary Lewis advises her athletes their college experience shouldn’t just be about competing, getting a degree and leaving.
“It’s about being a part of the community,” Lewis said, “and understanding that there’s more to life than just what happens here at school.”
There’s no shortage of William and Mary student-athletes that incorporate community service into their busy extracurricular itineraries. For the women’s gymnastics team, the most recent example is the Mayflower Marathon, an annual Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore food drive.
In past years, Tribe gymnasts have been on hand to assist in the event that provides meals to those in need. They couldn’t make it to either the Virginia Beach or Suffolk locations this year, but still made time to donate cash and collect items for the drive.
But they don’t just save the compassionate acts for the holidays. Some serve as peer tutors throughout the year and the team often participates in benefit runs/walks like the JDRF One Walk earlier this month in Yorktown that raises research money for type 1 diabetes. On Dec. 5-6, they’ll volunteer at the Dave Brown Memorial gymnastics meet in William and Mary Hall.
For senior Brittany Stover, the two-time reigning Eastern College Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year, volunteering for the Mayflower Marathon has been the most rewarding endeavor.
“It’s really easy to forget that there are people out there that need your help,” Stover said. “Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s all about family, so to be able to help another family have a nice Thanksgiving Day is probably my favorite.”
Like most of her teammates, Stover hails from outside of the area. All but two (Gaby Johanek of Yorktown and Aaliyah Kerr of Fredericksburg) of the 16 members are from out of state including Stover, a New Albany, Ind. native. Lone international Monica Ouellet calls Saskatchewan, Canada home.
What better introduction to your new home away from home than to give back.
“You never really realize how much of an impact you can have on the community,” Stover said. “… They’re always very welcoming and very excited to see us. We enjoy doing whatever we can.”
Sports Editor Kellen Holtzman