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Going forward, by giving back

by Andre Mitchell
Special to the Tri-State Defender

The boy’s basketball team at Airways Middle School took advantage of an opportunity to serve during this holiday season. The players, led by their head coach, Sherman Jones, helped fill Christmas baskets for the Neighborhood Christian Center’s annual event.

 The 2011-12 Airways Middle School Jets team features Terreyo Nailor, Jacquan Goodwin, Demarcus Danner, Maricus Parker, Demarion Kouakou, Anthony Baldwin, Larry Thomas, Tevin Gathings, , Shajuan Jones, Santino Jones and Nick Nailor. (Courtesy photo)

Coach Jones said he was delighted to have the chance to bring his guys out to participate. And he was pleased with their effort and attitude toward helping out.

 “I think it speaks volumes about the kind of young men we are trying to prepare at Airways. Our young people don’t receive enough credit for the good things that they do in the community,” said Jones.

The vision of the late Monroe Ballard continues on as the thought of wanting to provide a family with a meal for the holiday has blossomed into more than 10,500 families being served annually.

Kedra Jones, director of the Neighborhood Christian Center’s Compassionate Ministries, said the highly anticipated event has been ongoing since 1989.

“It provides food staples for families during the winter break and supports anywhere from 10,500 up to 12,000 families each year,” said Jones.

All the more amazing when one considers that it all started with Ballard’s desire to give 25 baskets to families for Christmas. Now, 25 years later, an enormous operation stems from the NCC main office located at 785 Jackson.

 Sherman Jones

The best thing about the event is “being able to serve others,” said Jones. Seeing more than 40,000 people come and work together, like a team, runs a close second, she added.

How can Memphians help?

“Volunteers help tremendously,” said Jones. (Although she didn’t say it, I’m certain, any financial contributions would truly help make it even better and would be greatly appreciated.)

As for the boy’s basketball players at Airways Middle, serving at the center is another positive step towards learning the art, honor and privilege of serving others.

 “This definitely is a ‘community service’ type of event and we look forward to participating again in the future,” said Coach Jones.

After the players “signed-in,” they reported to duty, where they un-stacked boxes, unwrapped long-grain rice and boxed macaroni, followed by more rice and macaroni, until the goal had been reached.

Way to go, young men of Airways Middle, way to go!

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