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Ohio Volleyball Spreading Cheer to Local Residents

Members of the Ohio Volleyball Team with one lucky senior citizen

Feb. 20, 2012

Article written and video produced by WOUB's Kaylee Donegan

ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio volleyball team continued its long-running tradition of giving back to the community this past Valentine's Day when it delivered balloons and cheer to residents of local nursing homes.

"This is one of the most rewarding community service projects I think we've ever done here, if not the most rewarding one," head Ohio Volleyball Head Coach Ryan Theis said.

The project was started after Kathy Hartman, a floral attendant at Kroger and an avid supporter of Ohio volleyball, approached the coaching staff to get the volleyball team involved with the project. Sponsored by Kroger, the project allows Kroger customers to purchase balloons to be delivered to the senior citizens.

"We've always been about that," Hartman said in regards to Kroger's involvement in community service in Athens. "We're one of the top community-involved companies in the nation. We've gotten that recognition."

The project isn't the only one the volleyball team participates in, but its impact is definitely felt on both the residents and the team itself.

"This means so much because usually are residents here don't have family that come in," Laurels activities director Lisa Snyder said. "And around the holidays they get really lonely and seeing the young fresh faces makes them so happy."

"We usually do the Little Bobcats [program] during the season and we helped out with some church related things," junior Leah Petrovich said. "But this is just different because it's the senior citizens and we get to see a whole different side of people we don't usually don't get to see."

The project exemplifies the connection between Ohio Athletics and the Athens community. The connection involves all Ohio teams. Hartman explained athletics' impact on the community including the basketball team attending schools with Rufus and the football team putting on workshops for kids in the community.

"This past basketball game for the men's [team] I sat in front of a little boy and this cheerleader was interacting with him. Now he can't wait to come to the basketball game," Hartman said. "And that's the total involvement that the community has with the athletics. Whether its cheerleaders, basketball players or whatever, this three-year old knows number five is [D.J.] Cooper."