The Elmwood Park girls track & field team dedicated some of its extra time during spring break to working at Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit organization that provides food to undernourished children in developing nations.
The team of 68 athletes and five managers volunteered at FMSC's Schaumburg location on Thursday, March 28.
Team members helped pack 252 boxes of the organization's nutrient-rich MannaPack meal formulas — enough to feed 149 kids for a year with more than 54,000 meals.
Going Beyond Sports
The service project was the result of head coach Ms. Kendal Ahlmann and assistant coaches Ms. Marinelle Arenga and Ms. Eileen Mazanek collaborating on ideas for community-based volunteer opportunities that would teach lessons beyond athletics.
"To be solely athletic drastically limits future opportunities," said Ms. Ahlmann. "Character — the way one treats others — will open more doors for these students than just the ability to run fast or jump far."
The Feed My Starving Children effort involved the entire team, both varsity and JV.
The girls prepared and put together the nourishing meal formulas for countries in Africa and Central America, working with one another to fill, seal and store each packaged good.
PHOTO: Girls track & field teammates prepare meal formula for packaging while volunteering at Feed My Starving Children during spring break. (Photo courtesy of Kendal Ahlmann)
For the coaching staff, the team's experience serving others during spring break was time well spent, an investment that's sure to yield returns to the students in their own personal growth.
"I think it's important to teach our athletes what it means to pay it forward — understanding that even the smallest gesture matters, and that they have the power to make a difference in the world," said Ms. Arenga.
In that spirit, the team embraced volunteer work as its fundraiser for this season.
The students used the online crowdfunding tool WeFund4U (similar to GoFundMe) to set up a donation site, where they described their volunteer service. Visitors to the site then donated what they saw fit.
PHOTO: A job well done! Members of the girls track & field team gather for a group photo at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg. (Photo courtesy of Kendal Ahlmann)
The varsity will continue its volunteer work later in April, when team members read to students at D401's own Early Childhood Center.
As for athletic competition, the team started its 2019 campaign in mid-February and competed indoors throughout March.
The outdoor season stretches from April to May. Home meets for the IHSA Class 2A Tigers are scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 (Metro Suburban Conference dual); Friday, April 19 (Tiger Classic); and Friday, May 3 (MSC Championship).
PHOTO: The numbers tell the story of what the girls accomplished during their time at Feed My Starving Children. (Photo courtesy of Kendal Ahlmann)