Nov. 20, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - The arrival of the holiday season often provides an opportunity for reflection; a chance to truly take stock of life and all of the aspects within it which deserve a measure of appreciation they are commonly denied.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the holidays is the proliferation of the spirit of giving as efforts to support those less fortunate take flight - efforts that lift the spirits of others while instilling valuable moral lessons that will last a lifetime.
As a Catholic institution, servant leadership is at the core of the Seton Hall mission. During a recent University-wide initiative that coincides with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 16-24), all 14 varsity athletic teams worked in conjunction with the Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) to sponsor a Thanksgiving dinner for a local family in need.
"We are constantly exploring avenues to make a meaningful impact in our neighboring communities," said Roberto Sasso, Assistant Athletic Director/Student-Athlete Development & Leadership. "This is just another example of all of our student-athletes and teams working cooperatively and showing how invested they are in giving back to those less fortunate."
Each squad was tasked with compiling a basket that featured many staples of a balanced Thanksgiving meal. Baskets were also to include sport-specific items and a homemade Thanksgiving card signed by team members and coaches.
"Our student-athletes all understand that representing Seton Hall comes with great responsibility and always jump at the opportunity to use their position within the community for all the right reasons," added Sasso, who also serves as the coordinator of the Helping Athletes Learn to be Leaders (H.A.L.L.) Program. "In this case, there is a very tangible result and we are very excited to be able to help provide 14 different families with a meal on Thanksgiving.
In the spirit of friendly competition, a contest was held to determine the team who compiled the most "spirited" basket. Following a vote amongst peers, the Seton Hall softball team took home the title and received additional items to include when the baskets are delivered.
"As student-athletes, it is essential that we take the time to give back; especially since we are afforded the opportunity to receive an education and compete at the highest level," said Sara Haefeli, a junior on the winning squad. "Being a part of a Catholic school, it is our duty to reach out and serve our local community and support the people who support us when they need it the most. We always look to assist each other within our Seton Hall Athletics family but any time we can work together and contribute in a way that positively impacts others, it's a good feeling."
"I think it’s important that as athletes we learn to give back to others," added teammate Colltey Sheldon. "We are blessed with so many opportunities that sometimes we forget how good it feels to give back to the less fortunate. Knowing that you can put a smile on someone's face during a holiday makes it that much better to celebrate. Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year, so to be able to provide a family with a full meal so that they can enjoy it too, is very rewarding."