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Reporter, Jacob McNeill

As a West Omaha family enjoys a plentiful holiday season filled with the latest gadgets and generously sized Starbucks gift cards, in the very same city many families who struggle to make ends meet cannot afford to give their children presents. And as that same West Omaha family enjoys the warmth of a powerful furnace and cozy fireplace, people in the same city have to bear the brunt of the frigid outdoor conditions with no place of their own to call home.

Thanks to none other than a couple of Elkhorn South sports teams, some families in Omaha got the chance to give presents to their children and blankets to a local homeless shelter.

The entire girls basketball team, including the freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams, came together to support Adopt-A-Family, an organization which gives opportunities to purchase Christmas presents for a family with kids who cannot afford to purchase presents themselves.

“A lot of us don’t have to worry about stuff like that but we’re helping a family that does have to worry about money and difficult situations,” senior Jennae Patras said.

Another winter sports team also participated in an event aimed at giving back to others this year. The wrestling team raised a total of 83 blankets to hand deliver to the Open Door Mission through a blanket drive.

Not only do the volunteer experiences provide an opportunity to serve others, but team bonding occurs in the process.

“The whole team came together for a great cause and we all had the chance to get to know each other better. We learned that we can do great things as a team,” senior Jordan Edwards said.

Sophomore Krista McNeill agrees that the benefits from giving back are two-fold.

“It’s helpful to people, and though it you become better friends with your teammates,” McNeill said.

Patras believes giving back as a team also brings the team together.

“It’s a good opportunity to get to know each other better and spend time together while doing something good for the community at the same time,” Patras said.

Outside of basketball, Patras’ school soccer team will be holding a Kicks for a Cure game, from which all proceeds will go to cancer research.

On the other hand, the two other sports teams McNeill plays on do not perform any sort of charity or volunteer work.

“I wish we would volunteer or do something for charity with my other sports teams as well,” McNeill said.

Patras believes these types of volunteer and charity events are beneficial to athletes in particular.

“A lot of times athletes get caught up in their game and team and don’t really look outside at the real world around them so it’s a good opportunity for our team to represent Elkhorn South in giving back to the community,” Patras said.

Edwards agrees that an importance should be placed on athletes supporting their community.

“It’s important to instill the idea of giving back to the people who support you,” Edwards said, “So that athletes learn to appreciate everything the community does for them and how to be good citizens.”