Hillary Haley watches as a shopper graciously donates money to the Salvation Army
Hillary Haley watches as a shopper graciously donates money to the Salvation Army

Dec. 15, 2009

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Athletes from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore took time from their busy practice, class and study schedules last week to participate in the annual Holly Center Operation Teddy Bear and the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Drive.

For the fifth consecutive season, the baseball team participated in Operation Teddy Bear, sponsored by the Holly Center in conjunction with Perdue Farms. The event is a kick-off to the holiday season for physically and mentally challenged men and women that reside at the Holly Center, located in Salisbury. The Hawks were one of several groups that volunteered to assist the residents by loading them into tractor-trailers and driving them on a tour of residential Salisbury homes that were decorated for the holiday season.

"This is a great chance for us to be able to provide an opportunity for those that don't have the everyday opportunities that many of us have, and in many cases, take for granted," commented head coach Will Gardner. "In many ways, I think our guys get just as much out of the event as the actual participants."

Throughout the past week, members from the baseball, men's and women's basketball, golf and volleyball teams spent time ringing bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive at the Fruitland Wal-Mart. Despite cold temperatures and a blustery wind, many of the athletes were in a very festive mood and greeted shoppers by singing carols.

Coinciding with their competitive nature, the athletes also vied to get the most money in their kettles at their particular entrance while teammates were at the other entrance to the store.

"Even though it was cold out, it was extremely heart-warming to know that we are helping people who are less fortunate than ourselves," said redshirt junior Tim Burns (Franklinville, N.J.) "It was a great experience that we all enjoyed doing."

When people see the red kettle or hear the bells ringing outside a store, they often think of the Salvation Army. Millions of dollars are donated each year to aid needy families, seniors and the homeless, in keeping with the spirit of the season. Donations provide Christmas dinners, clothing and toys for families in need while financial assistance also helps with basic necessities, along with seasonal aid. The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.

For more information about the Holly Center, please visit their web site at: www.hollycenter.org. For more information about the Salvation Army, please visit their web site at: www.uss.salvationarmy.org/uss/www_uss_salisbury.nsf.