Christmas Caroling with the Cardinals
The Andrews University Cardinal men’s and women’s basketball teams did more than shoot baskets this season. In light of the holidays, the teams took a timeout to lift others up with Christmas carols, gifts and laughter during a recent tournament at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif.
The Andrews teams were at La Sierra for their first-time participation in the university’s Holiday Tournament. From December 15–17, the Cardinals played games against other Adventist institutions including La Sierra University, Pacific Union College, and Oakwood University.
On the second day of the tournament, the coaching staff and players loaded onto the buses to go caroling and give gifts to needy families in the area.
“We wanted to do a special outreach project in the community,” says Dave Jardine, men’s head basketball coach and director of athletics at Andrews University. “Prior to the tournament, I contacted the La Sierra University Church looking for three families we could carol and bring gifts to. We got the names of three families: two with five children each and one with two children.”
That evening, the 30 student athletes and five coaching staff polished up their caroling skills. When they visited each family, Jardine briefly introduced the group while the players handed out gifts and sang carols. The Cardinals took special requests like Jingle Bells and Silent Night, and even attempted a rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas (skipping only a few days, laughs Jardine).
“When the families heard us coming, I’m pretty sure they expected a typical group of singers... Boy, were they wrong. We spiced up every song we sang and it was great to see their expressions,” says Kenny Dupont, freshmen forward on the men’s team. “It’s an experience we won’t forget and neither will they.”
One of the three families made a particularly lasting impression on the Cardinals. After singing and handing out gifts to the five children, the oldest of the siblings hugged Jardine and kept saying, ‘Thank you, thank you.” His mother had asked earlier if they could not give the children gifts that night so they’d have something to open on Christmas morning.
“We knew how much they needed and decided to give them gifts that night as well as extra for Christmas Day,” says Jardine.
The children received gifts like backpacks, basketballs and gift cards.
The players enjoyed giving nearly as much as the children enjoyed receiving. “It showed me how much fun and enjoyable it can be to give something to someone else,” says Cliff Allen, starting center for the men’s team.
“It made me smile and feel better to see the families light up with joy,” recalls Janessa Sorrells, guard for the women’s team. “It’s the little things we do to help others that matter most.”
This was the first time both teams have gone caroling as an outreach event, but it won’t be the last, says Jardine.
-Written by Ashleigh Jardine