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  • The student-athletes from Chesapeake and Northeast give of their time each December to help sort and wrap gifts for the PBA gift drive, A Child’s Christmas.
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    The student-athletes from Chesapeake and Northeast give of their time each December to help sort and wrap gifts for the PBA gift drive, A Child’s Christmas.

Student-Athletes Support Families In Need For Christmas

Dave Topp
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December 5, 2017

Every winter, the spirit of giving arises. Gifts are exchanged, as are kind favors, and holiday cheer abounds.

Finding a means to acquire those gifts is sometimes a struggle. In Pasadena, an annual holiday drive called A Child's Christmas provides families in need with meals and presents during what is, for some, a difficult time.

“It's coming together as a community and helping the ones in need,” said Tyler Kirk, a senior at Chesapeake High School.

For the last eight years, football players and cheerleaders at Chesapeake have gathered to assist with A Child's Christmas, which is organized by the Pasadena Business Association (PBA).

At Chesapeake, head coaches Rob and Lisa Elliott, who oversee football and cheerleading respectively, have gathered those student-athletes to help brighten the holidays for local families.

“With life being as busy as it is and as crazy as it is at times, it kind of slows you down a little bit and puts things into perspective,” Lisa Elliott said. “It just gets everyone in the Christmas spirit a lot.”

Cheerleaders form small groups and shop for an assigned family. By referencing the ages and interests of the children, the cheerleaders are able to select gifts. All families receiving support remain anonymous during the process.

“It's really special to us because we're giving back to our community,” said Sierra Finnerty, a junior cheerleader for the Cougars.

By giving back, students establish a special connection with the Pasadena community, and they are especially proud when their charitable deed has benefited someone within the walls of Chesapeake High School.

“It makes me feel good when I do it, because I know that I'm helping someone in my school,” added Finnerty, who is participating in the holiday drive for the third consecutive year.

As gifts are collected, the Elliotts help arrange a gift wrapping get-together for the students. “It's almost like a Santa's workshop,” Lisa Elliott said. “There's gifts galore.”

A group consisting mostly of cheerleaders wraps the new toys before they are sorted and delivered to their new families. Football players sort and bag most of the food, which is then dispersed across the county.

“You're going to feel good either way if you're helping someone across the world or right down the street from you,” said Kirk, a wide receiver and defensive back on the Cougars football team. “I think it says something bigger when you're not just playing football for the community.”

Kirk said he's enjoyed being a part of this holiday drive so much that he'd be willing to volunteer again next year even though he'll be off to college.

“Our teams are close-knit as it is with football and cheerleading,” said Lisa Elliott. “Just having them work together and knowing that everything that they’re doing stays local, it kind of touches home.”

Rob and Lisa Elliott also run the Panthers Athletic Club, which oversees much of the youth cheerleading, football and wrestling in Pasadena.

“[Those] are just really good life lessons for them to learn, making them feel pretty fortunate for what they have,” Lisa Elliott said.

Anyone interested in learning more about A Child's Christmas can contact the PBA at or by calling 410-360-4722.

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