Cawley Middle School cheerleaders a team on and off the court in Hooksett
HOOKSETT — So the Cawley Middle School cheerleaders would learn to take a sense of ownership in their community, first-year coach Jen Leger and her 18 girls spent part of last weekend putting together Thanksgiving bags at the Hooksett Food Pantry.
Leger said that having the cheerleaders play an active role in the community will be an important aspect of her tenure as coach, and that the results have already been spectacular.
"When I told the girls (about coming to help at the food pantry) I made it clear that it was not mandatory, that it was totally optional. Fast forward to today and all 18 girls on the team showed up," Leger said.
Food Pantry Chairman Barb Brennan said she was very impressed with how much work the girls were able to do.
"We weren't expecting so many to show up, but they did a lot of work in a really short amount of time. And anything they can do to help us is more than appreciated, I think it is amazing that they want to give back in this way. They put together 150 baskets today," Brennan said.
Leger said that part of the team's mission this year will be not only to perform as a team on the court, but also as a team in the community.
"This is the first year (the cheerleaders) will have given back to the community. It is really important to me personally to give back, and I think this can be a great opportunity for the kids to learn the value of giving back in a non-stressful environment to give them all awareness," Leger said.
The cheerleaders were unanimous in saying that coming in on a Saturday to help out at the food pantry was a good idea, and helped bring the team closer.
"It is good that we are giving back to the community," Olivia Stephens said.
Katie Leger agreed, saying, "I think it is great that we are helping out with the community and putting together Thanksgiving baskets for people who maybe wouldn't be able to celebrate the holiday without it."
Leger said that along with giving back to the community the squad will also be competing for the state championship this spring after a multi-year absence, and the squad is fundraising so it can hire a music and dance choreographer.
"Any money that we have left over we will give to the food pantry," Leger said.
Leger said the next community event the girls plan to take part in will be the ringing of the bell for the Salvation Army in December.