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Little League Volunteers Help Families in Virginia Town Enjoy Dinner During Holiday Season

Volunteer members of the Bluefield Little League in Bluefield, Va., delivered more than 35 holiday dinners to families in need this past holiday season.
Photo courtesy of Ray Froy, Bluefield Little League

(Jan. 5, 2005) – Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains near the southern border of West Virginia, members of the Bluefield (Va.) Little League have touched the hearts and stomachs of several local residents through a program that provides hot holiday dinners to families in need.

Through a willingness to give back to this community of 8,000, Pam Williams and Jeff Williams, Angie Matthews, and Ray Froy tapped the volunteer spirit of the Bluefield Little League, and for the second year in a row, the league distributed holiday feasts to several less-fortunate families in and around town.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Mrs. Williams, the league’s former treasurer. “There were a lot of tears when we delivered the meals, and I think we gained more than those who received the goodies.”

Each meal was distributed following conversations with several families that were in need of assistance. Their names had been offered to Mrs. Williams by schools officials, the Department of Family Services, and the Bluefield Police Department. Sixteen Little League volunteers, including five players, contributed time. Teams of two delivered the turkey or ham meals prepared by a local supermarket.

Using the enrollment of prospective players as reason for contacting the families, the Bluefield Little League volunteers got a sense of the needs of each family.

“We are a small town, so when I first talked to the families on the phone, I presented it as ‘we want to do things in the community.’ We never presented it as charity,” said Mrs. Williams.

The program also served the police and fire departments, along with the rescue squads in the area. Nearly 40 meals were delivered on Christmas Eve day to families in Bluefield and neighboring Tazewell. A total of 174 people were served.

“Our goal is to reach the families that are not getting any assistance because their income is borderline to qualify (for public assistance),” said Mr. Froy, Bluefield Little League’s vice president. “These families seem to always be left out.”

Through its volunteers and donations, the program caught the attention of local government officials, and citizens wanting to donate. Plans and funding are currently being organized for next year.

“It’s amazing how a meal can bring so much happiness,” said Mr. Froy. “We noticed that the children were more excited by the meals than they were for any toys or other gifts.”

When approaching the families with the dinners, which offered all of the traditional holiday fixings and served up to eight, the Bluefield Little League wanted it understood the intent was to show the townspeople how it appreciated the community support for Little League. Mr. Froy said, “Not wanting to embarrass any of the families, we asked that if they’d already had dinner planned, that they share the meal with someone they knew who didn’t.”

"People love to contribute, and often they wish to remain anonymous,” said Mrs. Williams. “This was, and is, an opportunity for them to feel good, and help out, and they all did it in the name of Little League."

The Bluefield Little League has been a chartered member of Little League since 1981. Last season there were 283 children and 25 teams in the program, including girls’ softball. Jeff Williams, Pam’s husband, is a former Bluefield Little League president and Mrs. Matthews is the league’s former secretary. Both played key roles in helping the program to make such a profound impact in their community.