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Simone Egwu (Odenton, Md.), a rising junior on the women’s basketball team, recently checked in with to give a first-hand update on one of the team’s community service events this month.

Last Saturday my teammates and I helped out at the Christmas in July community service event at Hope Community Center on 11th street. It was an event to help needy families in Charlottesville, who had the opportunity to take what they needed from stations throughout the center, ranging from clothing to toys for children.

I was assigned to work the clothing station and help people find their sizes. The station was in the gym of the center, and I was amazed at the amount of clothes that were available for people to choose from.

It was so wonderful that Charlottesville citizens gave so generously. There were also 50 brand-new pairs of Nike sneakers for families to find hidden throughout the station. My teammates and I threw ourselves into the event, trying to find cute outfits and shoes for little girls, and carrying babies for busy mothers who were searching for the right clothes. When I helped a girl find a pair of jeans that were just her size after she’d been searching what seemed like all day, my day was complete.

Seeing so many kid’s faces light up as they found a pair of new shoes made me realize just how blessed I really am. I am playing basketball at a Division I school, with a scholarship. This feeling made me even more willing and eager to help whoever I can and should in the Charlottesville community. I think it’s the kind of personal attention and connection-making that Christmas in July facilitated that really makes a community service event happen.

It is easy to set up booths and let people pick the things they want. But when it comes down to it, community service is about uniting people that share the same city, yet somehow, don’t cross paths. It is about bringing everyone together under the same flag and moving forward together. Christmas in July did that for my teammates and the community of Charlottesville, even if only for a moment, and made us all that much more eager to come together with the citizens of Charlottesville whenever we can.

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