Nearly 20 Kellogg Community College softball players were among a record of more than 60 KCC students and employees who signed up to assist with community projects as part of the college’s Bruins Give Back volunteer event in December.
Ten or so of the players spent the recent Friday morning working with students in Karen Frye’s second-grade classroom at Fremont Elementary in Battle Creek, where they helped the kids make snowman Christmas ornaments to be delivered to families moving out of a local homeless shelter so they would be able to decorate their new homes for the holidays.
Mackenzie Kendall, 19, a center fielder studying early childhood special education, said she thinks it’s important for the team to give back when they can.
“We like to do things for other people,” said Kendall, who’s accumulated more than 500 hours working in classrooms since her junior year of high school. “It’s important to make other people feel important.”
Genna Baushke, 20, a psychology major who plays middle infield for the Bruins, also said volunteering is important.
“It really puts you into the community and helps you see what’s going on,” she said.
Across town, another group of softball players worked with students at Urbandale Elementary, where second-grade teacher Kathy Decker’s students were busy crafting ornaments of their own to bring to the local senior center down the road.
The kids are involved in service learning projects with the residents at the center each month, and Decker said it’s good for the kids to see the older KCC students spending time in their community.
“The kids know that they’re giving back,” Decker said. “It’s huge. After they’re here we discuss that they’re volunteers and what giving is.”
Russ Bortell, head softball coach at KCC and an enrollment services representative for the school, joined his team helping the kids at Fremont. He said the gains that come to the team through serving others are felt long after the actual volunteering has ended.
“It’s team-building,” Bortell said. “And the rewards they get are something that they wouldn’t get in the classroom. … I feel like we benefit far beyond the people we’re helping.”
For more information about the softball program at Kellogg Community College, visit www.kellogg.edu/athletics/softball/index.html.