The goal for coaches in the winter basketball season is to win as many games as possible. At other times of the year, those goals are different.
St. Joe basketball coach Julie Matheny certainly had different things in mind in June and July. She was thinking about her girls getting into camps and competitions for skills development and thinking about players bonding and team-building exercises.
Along came Deborah Groh Haring, mom of Emmie Haring, senior guard with the Angels.
Debbie grew up in Neosho, MO, 15 minutes south of Joplin. Concerned about the devastation of the May tornado in Joplin and wondering what would happen next, Haring pointed Matheny to the Chests of Hope Charity in the ravaged town of some 30,000 people.
Matheny was hooked. She challenged her team to go out and collect books and toys and clothes for young children in desperate need and do something to make them feel better about themselves.
Mission accomplished. In one day, the girls swept through the community, buying everything they could get their hands on at Walmart and Target. They got enough items to fill three vans for a 250-mile jaunt to Southwest Missouri. Haring and friends delivered the goods to the children in Joplin shortly thereafter in September.
“We collected items for a 13-year-old girl, a 3-year-old girl and a 7-year-old-boy,” Emmie Haring said.
“My mom is from Neosho, but she she moved to St. Louis and graduated from Saint Louis University,” Emmie said. “We sent the items to the Chests of Hope, and the people were so appreciative,” Deborah Groh Haring said.
Maddie Stock, senior guard, who along with her twin Morgan recently signed national letters of intent to play for the University of Missouri Tigers, got in on the action.
“It’s great to help people in need. It wasn’t hard to do at all. Actually, it was very easy to do and gave everyone on the team a great feeling. The drive only lasted one day, and we got it all done,” Stock said.
Erin Nelson, junior guard was on the crew, too. “We rushed out to do this because we knew there were children who needed a lot of help. You might call this our Christmas in July campaign,” she said smiling.
“Emmy’s mom emailed us lists of things to get that would be appropriate for each child, and we took it from there.”
These are the recipients of the gifts from the team.
Zailey, age 3, sought shelter with her family in a cubbyhole below the house during the tornado. Zailey was injured in the storm and spent several months in the hospital before recovering.
Sam, 9, was watching TV when the storm reports came across the screen. His family's home and entire neighborhood was leveled by the storm. Sam received a complete baseball outfit from the St. Louis Cardinals and his favorite hoodie sweatshirt, too.
Emily, 13, was riding in a car with her parents returning from her brother’s high school graduation. The graduation was moved indoors at the last moment at Missouri Southern State University outside the devastation area. Their car was picked up and slammed to the ground. Emily was badly injured and spent months in the hospital recovering from her wounds.
Debbie Haring delivered all the donated items in September to the charity located in Mills Park Center. She made a profound comment to the staff and families waiting her arrival. “This is just an awesome coach and players...and a community service that shows how far this charity has reached us who have moved away from home.”