“It is such a joy to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Each season, JVA member clubs show their young athletes the joy of giving back in their communities or around the world. There are many different ways to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’ve highlighted a few clubs this season that are showing their players the importance of giving back. #JVAGivesBack is inspired by #AAUCares, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)’s way of giving back to the community also known as #AAUCares.

River City Juniors: #ChooseKindness

Earlier this month, River City Juniors (Omaha, NE) delivered hundreds of boxes of goodies to help fill the food pantry at Spring Lake Elementary School. Food, clothing, body care products, books, toys, and cookies from the local Girls Scouts were included in the gooies. A box of cookies was handed out to each student and staff member. The local NBC news affiliate covered the story HERE.

Club Director Deb Grafentin believes it is important to show players the value of giving back to others.

“Whatever needs they have, we tried to bring in” shares Grafentin.

The video below shows the reaction of the kids when the curtains were opened, revealing what was being delivered to the students.

Premier Academy: Operation Christmas Child

It all started about three years ago, after Premier’s annual uniform distribution day for its club players. Club Director Jodi Schramm was helping break down about 200 cardboard shoeboxes to throw into the recycle bins when a co-worker said to her “this reminds me of something I saw on Facebook recently with tons of shoeboxes.”

She then proceeded to Jodi the videos from an organization called Operation Christmas Child. The videos were of children living in severe poverty receiving shoeboxes filled with basic toys and even homemade gifts.

The look on these kids’ faces after receiving small items that were so simple and inexpensive, moved me very deeply. I immediately knew that somehow, I wanted to be a part of this” explains Schramm.

Premier started by having an annual holiday 4s tournament each December and asked participants to bring small toys as the entry fee. It then expanded to showing the players the videos and educating them on the importance of giving to other children who have essentially nothing.

To keep it fun, every so often we have little challenges in our gym where the players can do sprints or pushups, etc. or they can opt to bring a box of crayons or glue sticks or pencils, etc. instead of doing those activities that day.”

“It didn’t take long to realize how to collect a lot of crayons! In our first year, we packed 35 boxes and by year three, we donated just over 100 boxes from our club” adds Schramm.

This year, Premier partnered with the JVA World Challenge tournament to help collect and donate 250 boxes.

High Performance St. Louis: DIG It! Volleyball

DIG It! Volleyball, an acronym for “Developing the Inner Girl, was founded through High Performance STL Volleyball Club. The female empowerment program provides free after-school volleyball training for low-income girls in the St. Louis-area. Many urban schools lack quality after-school programming for young girls. Girls in these schools are in need of more opportunities that promote physical activity and wellness education for females. DIG it! inspires urban girls to lead healthy, confident lives through an after-school program that integrates an activity-centered curriculum with volleyball instruction.

The 12-week program for 5th and 6th-grade girls runs from late-January through April at two urban elementary schools in St. Louis. HPSTL provides volunteer coaches and seeks monetary gifts that help finance the administrative costs, new net systems, and transportation costs.

“The founder of our DIG It! program, David Bosch, saw an incredible lack of after-school programming in our St Louis Public School District. As a teacher in the SLPS and a staff member for High Performance, David recognized the value of team sports in the development of young females. The confidence and leadership skills that our young athletes attain through team sports is invaluable” shares HPSTL Girl’s Division Director & Associate Club Director Cary Cusumano.

“The skills and opportunities afforded to the young women that participate in the Dig It program show them opportunities that their everyday schooling can’t. The added bonus is that our High Performance families are given an opportunity to give back through a sport that has given them so much.”

River City Juniors, Premier Academy, and High Performance St. Louis are all members of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization comprised of nearly 1200 junior volleyball clubs around the country. To learn more about the JVA click HERE.

About the Author

Samie joined the JVA Staff in January 2018 as the Housing Coordinator. She graduated from Cardinal Stritch University with a degree in Sports Management and took her volleyball and coaching experience to Assistant Volleyball Coach at Wisconsin Luthern College. Samie played junior club volleyball for many years and ended at Milwaukee Sting VBC. She is now in her sixth season of coaching for Milwaukee Sting VBC.