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#STINGDAILY: Stepping Up To The Plate

Nov. 25, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech Softball won’t be playing its first game of the season for another couple of months, but the team still found a way to hit a grand slam on Sunday afternoon.

Working in concert with Crossroads Community Ministries, which has been on a mission to help the homeless in Atlanta for more than 40 years, Yellow Jacket Softball pulled together and helped make Thanksgiving possible for a needy Atlanta family.

The team collected food, packaged it up in a box they specially decorated and delivered it, as well as a gift card for a turkey to the mother of five yesterday afternoon. (The family wished to remain anonymous).

The initiative was inspired by first-year coach Shelly Hoerner.

“To me, it’s better to give than to receive,” said Hoerner. “I think it’s so important to be able to make others happy and just see the joy in their eyes and them feeling really appreciative of someone helping them out because you never know when it might happen to you.

“It may come back around one day that you need help,” she continued. “So it’s really important to treat others as you want to be treated. I just think that it’s really, really important to give when you can, whether that’s your time, $1, $10, or $1,000 dollars, whatever it is, it’s really important to be able to show someone that you care about them because some people don’t have family, they don’t have friends that care about them.”

Hoerner stressed that finding such causes and getting her teams involved in them is an important part of her program. She said she found plenty of enthusiastic helpers on the Yellow Jackets.

Sunday, seniors Hayley Downs, Ashley Thomas and Alysha Rudnik and senior baseball pitcher Devin Stanton made the delivery to a very appreciative family.

But the mother, her five children and a few other young children that were at the house weren’t the only beneficiaries. Being the deliverers proved as rewarding.

“It was a really great feeling to be able to help people out because growing up you’re kind of raised in your own little environment and you don’t really see how other people are living,” said Downs. “It was a really humbling experience to get to see how less-fortunate people are and just how thankful the mother was. The kids were really young so I don’t think they understood exactly what was happening but I know they were excited. She said something about a turkey and they got really excited. It was really nice to be able to make people happy, especially the kids. They were playing and you could tell they were excited to get visitors and see people and just the whole process was good for everybody.”

Hoerner, who had a special delivery of her own on Nov. 15, a baby girl, Meeka May, believes that the experience will give the team a special appreciation for the holidays and the impact they can make by helping in the community.

“When I’m able to help someone else out, it can always come full-circle. I think it’s important to be able to do that when you can,” she said. “We can do that. I think it’s important for the girls to understand how fortunate they are in helping out someone and just putting a smile to their face. There were a lot of smiles yesterday. I know that.”

Hoerner has assured that there will be a lot more smiles courtesy of her team and a lot more events like Sunday’s in the future. The smiles will start in December, as the team has “adopted” a couple of children, for whom they will make Christmas a little more special.

“Coach Hoerner had said from the beginning she loves this time and she thinks it’s a time to be giving more than receiving,” said Downs. “That type of mindset that the coaching staff has is definitely going to bring that tradition here and I think it’s a great tradition to have. It’s a good piece of character to add to everybody’s life because if you’re not helping other people then what are you doing, really? I think it will definitely be something that our team will continue to do.

“To see how excited people were getting for something that I’ve had all my life was a really nice thing to see and to be a part of and it’s definitely something I’m going to be doing again,” she added. “Since I’m a senior I’ll be getting involved in it again, whether it’s on my own or with some other organization.”

For more information on Crossroads Community Ministries visit

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