By Ashley McCleery
The North Jefferson News
Not only are Bragg Middle School cheerleaders encouraging their sports teams, but this year they’re also encouraging the patients at the Helping Hands Hospice in Hoover.
In addition to competing at the Riverchase Galleria this past weekend, the 12-person squad also sold Belk tickets for the store’s annual charity sale on Saturday, from which the cheerleaders donated the proceeds to Helping Hands Hospice.
Each ticket cost $5, which allowed customers to receive a 20 to 50 percent discount on merchandise at Belk from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. as well as support a local charity.
Although the girls aren’t able to volunteer one-on-one time with the patients due to their age, Helping Hands Hospice volunteer coordinator Brooke Lancaster said the girls are still making a difference in each of the patients lives.
For example, the money raised from the Belk tickets will help pay for the patients’ food, necessities and crafts. Also, this weekend the cheerleaders are gathering to create craft baskets for them filled with holiday goodies.
“Hospice patients love to get gifts from young people,” Lancaster said. “A lot of our hospice patients know what they have is terminal, and whatever we give them, like the baskets, brings a brighter smile to their face.”
And as Lancaster said she’s noticed, a smile on terminally ill patient is a medicine in itself, allowing the patient to live the rest of his or her life to the fullest.
Since Lancaster also has a daughter on the squad, she said she has seen how volunteering with Helping Hands Hospice has fostered her daughter’s respect for the elderly. “It used to be that preteens didn’t care about the elderly. Now she [her daughter] does care as they all do.”
And cheerleading sponsor Allison Davison has also witnessed the change in her squad. “When I brought up the idea, some girls didn’t even know what a hospice was,” Davison said. “It opened their eyes…Teenagers are so wrapped up in their own lives, hopefully this will help them see the larger issues out there.”
Throughout the year, Lancaster and Davison will work closely in hopes of involving the girls in more projects, bringing smiles to the elderly and perspectives to the young.
“They’re a caring group of girls, and this will help them see they can really brighten one person’s day,” Davison said. “We’re happy to help out in any way we can.”
By Ashley McCleery