Buffalo Grove scores a big seasonal win with Partners for our Communities
The idea came about via Buffalo Grove boys basketball coach Keith Peterson and his affiliation with the Deer Grove Covenant Church.
A group from the church three years ago wanted to do something during the holiday season for underprivileged children and families in the area.
Peterson's group contacted Rachel Lara at the Partners for our Communities in Palatine at Rand and Hicks roads.
Peterson took the concept to heart and decided to ask his Bison boys basketball team if it was something they would like to try.
"They were all for it," said Peterson. "Each year that we have done this outreach, it has become bigger and better. The players enjoy reaching out to these grade-school age kids to help them enjoy the day we spend with them."
A family with children is selected by Lara and other members of the Partners for our Community staff. The players then get a wish list from that family, for toys for their children want and household items that are needed.
BG junior Jack Vaselaney and senior Kyle Zyck spoke about the experience and what it meant to them.
"I wasn't sure what to expect last year when I was a sophomore," said Vaselaney. "Some of the activities were planned for us, working with the kids. Once I was there, I just loved it it. It was a way of giving back to the community. My feeling is that being a basketball player for Buffalo Grove is to be a role model for others. I wanted to make this go full circle.
"While it was just one day (Dec. 14) with these kids, they just had so much fun with us. I know it made their day go better. Time just went by so quickly. I wish we could have stayed longer."
Zyck also participated in last year's get-together and anticipated the day.
"I was more comfortable with the kids and what would be going on," said Zyck. "When we walked in with our Buffalo Grove warmups on, they got real excited and happy to see us. It was going to be a day of joy and happiness for them. It was good to see that they looked up to us. I know they appreciated what we did with them."
The players first helped them with homework -- and then the fun began.
The Bison players helped the children decorate cookies and had juice drinks along with some cupcakes, courtesy of Peterson's wife, Julie.
Activities included playing board games followed by some soccer, some football, basketball and some races in the athletic area of the center.
"After the afternoon was over," said Peterson, "we went back to school and talked about the afternoon. One of the best things that came out of this is the hugs and smiles to the players as were leaving. This was a great opportunity for the players. They saw that there is more to life than just wins and losses.
"This gave us an opportunity for us as a team to be grateful for what we have in our life and environment," said Vaselaney. "Sometimes we have to take a step back from our day-to-day lives to see what other people don't have or how they struggle. These kids really enjoyed interacting with us. It was really a special day for them and for us. This was big for us as a team. It helped bring us together more."
The gifts that the players brought for the selected family and children were left at the center before being distributed on Wednesday.
"Doing this type of activity was good for us also," said Zyck. "The team was really excited about being able to spend a day helping others."