On Wednesday, Dec. 20, the Powell High School wrestling team split into groups of two to four, but instead of putting on their headgear and practice clothes to push each other to get better on the mat, they went shopping to help seven local families in need of some assistance this holiday season.
“I just think it’s a good experience for the kids to give back to the community,” said head coach Nate Urbach. “It’s a good bonding experience.”
PHS sophomore Bo Dearcorn called it “a fun time of year for the wrestlers.”
“We all get together, go buy presents for these kids and help make their year so much better than it was,” he explained.
Urbach started Wrestlers’ Christmas roughly a decade ago. The team raises funds from 50/50 raffle tickets sold during the Powell Athletic Roundtable Invitational and then uses that money to go shop for kids whose families could use some assistance.
“I just always think it’s important for them to get in the habit of helping others. I just think that’s a huge part of being a good citizen,” Urbach said.
This year, the Panthers helped eight kids among seven families.
An unnamed source helps coach Urbach determine which families could use some help and Urbach said he is grateful for their assistance all these years.
“It’s easy to get down on your luck and it’s always nice to have people helping you up,” Urbach said.
Each group is given a sheet of paper, which includes items that the child needs. Most of the items listed are warm clothes, such as coats, long johns, pants, etc., with items such as socks and T-shirts listed as well. The sheet also says what kind of toys the child likes to play with, such as dolls or Legos.
Urbach said that, before he sends the wrestling team out shopping, the guideline is to spend 70 percent of the money on clothes and the remaining 30 percent on toys; the first priority is to purchase the clothes.
“Speaking of today, the storm’s rolling — it’s getting cold,” Urbach said on Dec. 20. “Getting warm clothing is a big thing, and for some people, it’s a lot of money, so it’s nice to be able to do that.”
Junior Cole Davis said that “it’s really fun and I think it’s a good thing we do for the community. It’s fun to go buy all the gifts and give them to the kids.”
After the presents are purchased, the team hand-delivers the presents to the families.
“It’s definitely been an event to remember,” said senior Stephen Preator. “I find it very humbling and I think it’s great seeing the little kids’ faces when we pull up. Definitely something I’ll never forget; it’s been an amazing experience.”
Preator added that it’s something he looks forward to each year.
“I definitely enjoy this,” he said.
Corey Linebaugh, a PHS sophomore, said that “it’s a blast.”
“[We] have no clue who the kid is and find out a little bit about them [through the piece of paper] and then get to go meet them and see how happy their faces are when you hand them the presents and see how thankful they are,” Linebaugh added.
With clothes representing the bulk of needed items, “it definitely helps out the parents,” Preator said. “And I think that’s really cool that we can help out not only the kids, but also the parents.”