Gateway girls soccer lends a hand off the field
The Gateway girls soccer team got a break from the season recently when they took a Saturday to give back to the community.
Coach Kelly Bender said 24 girls, two parents and a player’s brother divided into groups to lend a hand to several service organizations in Monroeville, Pitcairn and McKeesport on Sept. 21.
“I love that service provides a different perspective for our girls. It also helps bond our team,” said Bender, 31, of Irwin.
Bender said the team has done various service projects in the past, an action that aligns with the team’s values, which includes service to the community.
“But this was the first one where we sent all the girls out to a few different locations,” she said. “We do bingo every year at local nursing homes around Christmas time. We’ve also picked up trash in the community.”
One group went to The Blessing Board in McKeesport, an organization that accepts donations of gently used furniture to give to families in need. The soccer players helped people from the community “shop” for items for their homes.
Another group visited Stoneybrook Foundation Therapeutic Riding Center, where girls cleaned the center, including horse stalls. They also had the chance to wash the horses.
The center offers horse riding for children with special needs.
The third group visited PitCare in Pitcairn, a nonprofit that operates a food pantry and other services including providing low-cost rental units to families in need. The girls painted units for the organization.
The fourth group went to Cross Roads Food Pantry in Monroeville to drop off food items collected at Gateway home soccer games.
Bender hopes to model the service day after a program at Trinity Christian School, which involves the entire school volunteering for organizations in the area. Bender used to teach physical education at the school before being hired as a coach at Gateway four years ago.
She said it was great to see the girls serving the community and she hopes to make the service day an annual event.
“I hope we can grow this and get other teams involved as well. It was sort of a test run this year,” Bender said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .