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‘Villains’ score big by helping others

Voorhees softball team draws inspiration by aiding a local pantry

Thirteen players and coaches from the 14U travel softball team gathered at Lions Lake Park to help prepare bagged lunches for the needy.

The Voorhees 14U travel softball team known as the Villains recently demonstrated its commitment to community service by partnering with a West Berlin pantry to prep bagged lunches with more than 100 inspirational messages for the needy.

For the Love of Pete’s Pantry is a nonprofit that is volunteer run and collects donations of food, toiletries and baby items for individuals and families mired in homelessness and poverty.

Coach and manager Dan Rothman, whose wife is also a coach, said his team drew immediate support from the community for the bagging event, including parents. Thirteen players and coaches – including Shannon Rothman and Bob Brennan – gathered at Lions Lake to prepare the lunches.

Christine Brennan, mother of player Lily Brennan, was behind the event.

“I found the organization (For the Love of Pete’s Pantry) on Facebook and saw that they were offering cookie baking for large groups,” she said. “I reached out to Jeanne (Rodrigues, organization founder and president) and she helped me brainstorm … I collected payments and went shopping for everything.”

Rodrigues expressed what the day meant to her.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the girls for doing this,” she said. “Their bagged lunches helped us feed over 100 people with our Treats on the Streets project. We love young people involved in all of our projects.”

Rothman shared his insights on how the lunch initiative and other events instill core values in his players. A team’s character, he believes, is integral to its culture, and opportunities to appreciate such values should not be overlooked.

“We wanted our girls to understand that there are people in need …” he noted.

One of those girls, eighth grader Alexandria Rothman, is the coach’s daughter. She reflected on the experience of helping with the lunch event.

“I’m really grateful to have this chance to help the homeless, because I know my dad went through this,” she explained. “I know that it means a lot to people in need. Not everyone gets to experience what we do.

“I definitely want to do more of this with our team because it just means so much.”

“We always look for these opportunities,” team president Dan Prosser pointed out. “We try to take care of our neighbors here and support local individuals in the area.”

The team’s coaches have overall developmental goals for the players, stressing that softball is not just about playing the game but also about building character. They also want them to prioritize service to the community and to appreciate its role in supporting local sports.

Team member Daria Carmona, also an eight grader, shared how meaningful the lunch event was to her.

“I loved it because I felt like a better person after helping people,” she noted, “and it impacts other’s lives, especially mine.”

“Doing the sandwich-making event was to help out the homeless and those in need,” said eighth grader and team member Ava Lattie. “Those in need are just as important as everyone else and they need to be uplifted and shown who they really are.”

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