By Megan Walsh, GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The North Carolina cross country teams went out into the local community and volunteered Monday with the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill.
The entire team made donations to the organization, which provides the families of ill children treated at UNC Hospitals with a place to stay. In total, the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill provides care and support for more than 2,000 families each year.
Six members of the cross country team, including Isaac Presson, Scott Morgan, John Raneri, Aundrea Holmes, Elizabeth Whelan and Caroline O'Hea joined assistant coach Angela Reckart and made a trip to the House to prepare a meal as well.
"We basically were looking for an opportunity to volunteer in the community as a team and have a chance to serve others," Reckart said. "The Ronald McDonald house is a great program. I had a close friend of mine very sick and in the hospital for months at a time. Her family stayed at the Ronald McDonald house where she was hospitalized and they were so thankful to such support with a place to stay and warm meals."
The team bought and prepared spaghetti and meatballs for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House and interacted with families and staff alike. UNC cross country has already been asked to volunteer with the organization again in the spring semester.
"You could tell that everyone there was so appreciative," said Morgan, a sophomore from Clemmons, N.C. "They have so much on their minds that it was nice to be able to take the worry of making dinner that night so they could instead eat, sit and talk."
Reckart said, "It was a great experience for the athletes to get out of their normal routine and serve others to make an impact in their day and possibly even their lives."
"This is important for us as a team," Morgan said. " It keeps us bonded as a team coming to the close of the cross season when we've got the indoor season right around the corner.
"Our sport is very individualistic but helping out in the community like this keeps us bonded as a team," Morgan added. "That team bonding is right out of things like [volunteering as a team] and it makes us fight harder and be more appreciative."