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Catamount Athletics Gives Back this Holiday Season

Dec. 11, 2013

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina Catamount Athletics is proud to call Western North Carolina and Jackson County home. Community service to those in the region continues to be a mainstay of the department and mission of the student-athletes.

WCU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) organizes initiatives throughout the year to provide avenues for student-athlete community service. The group's executive council chose the Jackson County Christmas Store as a part of the year's main service effort.

Now in its 26th year, the Jackson County Christmas Store - a part of the United Christian Ministries of Jackson County - provides the annual gift-giving experience to local parents who might otherwise not be able to afford presents for their children. WCU Athletics has partnered to assist the worthy cause for many years.

This year, Western Carolina's student-athletes raised funds and purchased gifts to sponsor over 25 local children this holiday season. Gifts ranged from much needed clothing including coats and shoes, to items such as strollers and of course toys for the kids. Catamount student-athletes and department staff members are also volunteering time at the Jackson County Christmas Store in helping organize, pack bags and shop for gifts for children who were not specifically sponsored.

All told, there are over 500 families in Jackson County alone that qualified for participation in this year's Christmas Store.

"I am extremely proud of our student-athletes' efforts this fall in working with the Jackson County Christmas Store," said Stacey Miller, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Academic Support, who also oversees WCU's SAAC. "Watching our student-athletes embrace the true meaning of giving and the importance of this community service project this holiday season has been inspirational."

If you would like to assist the Jackson County Christmas Store between now and Dec. 20, 2013, you can make a donation to Jackson County Christmas Store and mail it to PO Box 887 Cullowhee, NC 28723. Or to sponsor a child, please contact Elaine White or Wanda Kidd at (828) 586-8228.

Catamount Cheerleading Spreads `Spirit'
Western Carolina's cheerleading squad continued its annual tradition of giving this holiday season with a pair of service projects. The Catamount cheerleaders again participated in the Mountain Projects' initiative of providing holiday gift boxes for local senior citizens. WCU's cheerleaders filled and wrapped 15 boxes full of non-perishable items for the elderly which were delivered to Mountain Projects to be delivered locally.

Catamount Cheerleading - Holiday Service Photo Gallery

The cheerleading squad also adopted 26 area children as a part of the Salvation Army's "Angel Tree" project. They purchased much needed items such as clothes and shoes, as well as a few toys for each child for this holiday season. The group gathered at O'Malley's of Sylva for the annual "gift wrapping party" before sending the wrapped gifts to their representative.

"Community service is very important to our WCU Cheer family," said Catamount Cheerleading alum and head coach, Kim Cherry-Beck. "This holiday season, in addition to our current team, several of our alums came back to be part of this special tradition we enjoy. I am so proud of our program for continuing to give each year."

Cherry-Beck added, "Very special thanks to Lynn Stanberry and the O'Malley's of Sylva staff who supported our efforts by providing space for us to wrap our gifts, as well as lunch. On behalf of WCU Cheer, Merry Christmas, Catamount Nation!"

WCU Dance Team `REACH's Out to Community
Members of Western Carolina's Dance Team partnered with local business - and corporate partner - B.H. Graning Landscapes to help provide supplies and service at the Macon County REACH for Bargain stores back on Saturday, Dec. 7. Team members helped by wrapping gifts for patrons and assisted around the store.

WCU Dance Team - Holiday Service Photo Gallery

"We feel a great connection to Franklin as we work with the Franklin High Dance Team, so we wanted to give back to the community that supports us so well. We were honored to work with Jennifer Turner-Lynn, Franklin High School Spirit Programs Coordinator and Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator at REACH of Macon County, to establish this service project, and hope to continue it for years to come," said WCU Dance Team Coordinator, Jessica Graning.

Special thanks to B. H. Graning Landscapes for their donation of gift wrapping supplies.

The REACH for Bargains store is located at 158 Heritage Hollow Drive, Franklin N.C., and supports REACH of Macon County--REACH of Macon County is a domestic violence and rape crisis center headquartered in Franklin.