For our first team feature, we are focusing on Potomac Elite Volleyball Club (Shepherdstown, WV), one of the first clubs to sign on for The Assist Project. We asked club administrator Melissa Halaj 7 questions and have posted her answers below. We hope these inspire you for your next service project!
- What kinds of team building activities do you like to do with your club players?PEVBC is working hard to create a ‘community’ connection within our club. Each team has organized their own ‘team building’ events such as gift exchanges around the Holidays, team sleep overs, pizza parties, and so forth. However, as a club we are trying to organize events that give back to the community: This season we organized a Food Drive for the Ranson Food Bank, volunteered and made donations for the Santa Party at Ranson, participated in The Assist Project, and hope to plan a spring event that will benefit the Ranson community. We also try and plan ways to get the teams to work together as a whole. The Travel teams do conditioning together, when we are at the same tournaments we cheer for each other when possible, and all the teams find times to scrimmage and play each other during practices.
- How did you fit The Assist Project in with your club’s activities?As a club, we challenged each team to raise funds and make at least 30 cards – the team that raised the most money by our club deadline would win a pizza party. In the end, our 18s team won but extended an invitation to our 13s team (who was right behind them in fundraising) to join them for a ‘Top Two’ Pizza party. The younger girls were so excited to spend time with the older girls.
- Where did your teams meet to make the cards? Did you make it an event of some sort?The club provided each team with an Assist Project package for making their cards (Dos/Don’ts guidelines, construction paper, markers, crayons, stickers, etc.), then each team found time — during a multi-day tournament at the hotel, after practice, or at a team sleep over — to make their cards. In addition, our club hosted a 15/16s tournament in January and we challenged all of the teams attending the tournament to make cards. The team that made the most cards by the end of the tournament won a prize. We had an Assist Table set-up at the tournament with all the supplies needed and we had a few volunteers there to help with explaining what we were doing. We also provided each of these clubs’ with information on The Assist Project and how they could get involved. After the tournament, we turned over all the cards to The Assist Project for them to share at area hospitals.
- How many players created cards?All 7 PEVBC teams (12-18) made at least 30 cards, if not more. Most players made at least 3 cards, but we had several creative players who made a lot more than 3!
- What did your players do to make their cards special?Some of the players added stickers, most of them drew pictures on the cards, and many of them wrote silly jokes or riddles. Everyone found some way to be creative. The smiley faces, fancy flowers, and funny pictures were so much fun to look at when I was counting cards per team.
- How did you incorporate fundraising?
Our club created fundraising pages for each of our teams through The Assist Project and provided each team with the URL for their team page. This made it easy for parents and players to email family and friends and ask for donations. We did receive a few personal checks, but The Assist Project made it very easy to turn these in and have the amounts added to the appropriate team’s page. In addition, the club created a page on our web site so parents and players could not only see how their team was doing but how all the teams were doing with fundraising. A few times during our ‘Assist Project Challenge,’ the club sent out emails to everyone with current totals on how much money each team had raised so far and encouraged everyone to keep reaching out to their family and friends.
- How did players and their families respond to The Assist Project?The response from parents, players, and relatives was extremely positive. Most families have some story relating to Cancer – either a family member, friend, or neighbor that has been affected by this disease. Parents enjoyed watching their children doing something positive to help others – everyone was excited to participate. The players really had fun creating the cards with their teammates. They talked, joked around, and really bonded while making their cards.