published Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Silverdale boys' basketball players sacrifice to help others

Silverdale basketball players, from left, Christian
Rogers, Wesley Walker and Braden Marshall load
boxes with donated items Monday that will be given
to the Cleveland Emergency Shelter.
Silverdale basketball players, from left, Christian Rogers, Wesley Walker and Braden Marshall load boxes with donated items Monday that will be given to the Cleveland Emergency Shelter.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Through five basketball games this season, the Silverdale boys' basketball team has scored 162 points.

They can now add one HUGE assist.

The Seahawk team spent the past few weeks working with the Community of One, a non-profit organization focused on the betterment of the community. The Community of One's latest project involved working with the Cleveland Emergency Shelter, who had recently lost funding. The group's founder, Solomon Williams, had reached out via Facebook asking for anybody to help -- a request that was seen by Diana Evans, wife of Silverdale head boys' basketball coach Randy Evans, who live in Cleveland.

Williams said that the initial thought was that they would feed the shelter, but the group was told that the biggest need was hygiene. At that point, the "Bags of Hope" project was formed. It was one that the Community of One hoped would bring in about 40 bags full of hygiene products, but after the help of the Seahawks, was going to be well above that.

"It was a chance to help teach the guys to help those in need," Randy Evans said. "It means a lot seeing how much these guys do care. Our vision and philosophy is to serve people and share Christ through the team. You can tell kids when they go shopping that they are doing something to help others, and they'll think it's cool. But once the guys got to the store and they started realizing what it was going to mean to those less fortunate, their attitude changed. They wanted to know what else they could do, and how they could do more.

"I'm not surprised at all by how much this group helped. It's just awesome to see their hearts dig into this event."

As of Wednesday afternoon, Williams estimated that they would be able to drop off "about 60" bags full of products to the shelter.

"Coach [Evans] came to me and talked about how we could be involved in the community," senior captain Grant Marshall said. "We want to be focused on basketball here at Silverdale, but we also want to provide ways to service the community and help other people. He said he knew a friend that had a project, and we were able to bring the two groups together and combine forces for the good of other people."

Evans said the team got extremely involved in the process. They spent a day at Dollar General filling bags with necessities. Each team member paid with their own money, in an attempt to create a feeling of accountability in the process. And they're not done, having just gained a number of football players back from a successful season on the gridiron that have the desire to help as well.

"I think about how privileged I am to come to a school like this, have friends like this and be able to have a family that loves and cares for me," Marshall said. "It's my duty as a Christian to love other people and show Jesus to them in my everyday life, and if this is one way to get involved, I'm happy to give up my holiday to help someone else see the joy Christ has given me."

The team had a presentation Monday afternoon, in which they presented Williams with what was estimated at that time to be about 25-30 bags of products that the Community of One group was going to present Wednesday evening. Obviously, that number swelled with the contributions of others, but it wasn't lost on the group about how a group of high school students showed a selfless act in a season full of them.

The terms "amazed" and "blown away" were uttered a number of times by Williams.

"These stories about athletics being involved in the community need to be heard more," Williams said. "It's an amazing expression about what the term community is about. The shelter is in Cleveland, but Silverdale is in Chattanooga, so that shows that community isn't necessarily about being within city limits or a particular mile radius, rather a chance to see a need and reach out. That's what Christian athletics is all about, and these young men and the Evans family have displayed that and then some."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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