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MLK Day of Service: College Basketball Players Team with Kids to Give Back

Basketball has become a staple on Martin Luther King Day. Every year multiple NBA games are played throughout the day in which we honor the amazing civil rights leader. In the Philadelphia area there’s another tradition that focuses on Reverend King and hoops, all while helping to feed the hungry.

Martin Luther King Day is not designed to be a day off, but rather a day of service. For children in the Philly region, area colleges are making it possible for kids to give back while simultaneously improving their skills on the court. Hoops From The Heart has been going strong for 15 years now. Every MLK Day, several schools hold basketball clinics to raise money and supplies for charity.

This year the participating schools included Cabrini College, Neumann University, Widener University, and Haverford College. Bobbi Morgan, the women’s basketball head coach at Haverford started Hoops From The Heart back when she was coaching high school. Since then the program has continued to grow.

Children in grades one through eight are eligible to participate. Each child gets thorough basketball instruction from men’s and women’s players from the host college. Along the way, they also talk about Dr. King and have a lot of fun over the course of three hours. To attend the clinic, children donate money and non-perishable items to the Community Action Agency of Delaware County. The CAADC assists families and individuals to move toward economic self-sufficiency and reduce their dependence on public support.

At Cabrini College, home of the Cavaliers, attendance was high. Children turned out in droves to hone their basketball skills. The interaction between the kids and the Cavs players went smoothly. The college athletes drilled the youngsters on dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, and other techniques. Cabrini coaches Kate Pearson and Tim McDonald were on hand, while members of the Cavaliers’ men’s and women’s teams mentored the attendees.

Outside of the bustling gym, food items covered a table. A sea of cans and boxes brought by the children will be delivered to the needy. The kids and their families serve by helping the less fortunate while the college hoopsters serve by giving of their time to instruct.

The Community Action Agency also runs homeless shelters in addition to providing other services for families in need. Over $90,000 has been raised through basketball clinics since 2002.

All campers attending Hoops From The Heart receive a free t-shirt and personalized instruction on the fundamentals of basketball. Meantime, struggling members of society receive much more through this program.

For a decade and a half, Hoops From The Heart has carried on the mission of Martin Luther King, proving everyone can indeed serve. This year’s addition was a great day, in which children played a great game, and honored a great man in the process.

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