Mississippi State Softball team helps United Way pack donation boxes for local teachers on MLK Day

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Members of the Mississippi State Softball team spent their Martin Luther King Jr. Day by partnering with the United Way of Lowndes and Noxubee to pack donations for local teachers.

It’s part of United Way’s “Tools for School” campaign.

“MLK Day, a day of service that, instead of treating it as a day off, it’s a day on,” says MSU Softball Head Coach Samantha Ricketts.

United Way Executive Director Renee Sanders’s daughter DJ is a volunteer assistant coach for MSU Softball, so the team decided that organizing and packing up the boxes of donations would be an appropriate way to use their platform to give back on this day of service.

“As student-athletes, there are a lot of people that look up to us, so people see us giving back to the community and just spreading goodness around,” says right fielder Chloe Malau’ulu.

Coach Ricketts and several of her players were on hand Monday morning to help organize and pack up the boxes of supplies.

“Color copier paper, expo markers, wipes, Kleenex, you name it,” Sanders says. “Think of things that teachers need, not students. So we’re not looking for book bags, we’re looking for things that a teacher could utilize in her classroom.”

Their current goal is to pack up 170 boxes of supplies for teachers that either work or live in Lowndes or Noxubee counties.

“That means I need 170 reams of paper, community,” Sanders says. “I need 170 packs of pencils.”

Malau’ulu says her mother was a teacher.

“I’ve kind of seen her in all stages of being a teacher,” she says. “And it’s really cool to see how much it means to have like all the equipment that a teacher needs in order to give their students the best possible learning experience.”

And Coach Ricketts has seen many of her former players go into education themselves.

“Now getting to see them in their post-softball, post-college life and realizing the challenges that come in the different communities, especially as a teacher,” she says.

Sanders says they will be delivering the boxes during the first week of February 2022. Until then, those who would like to make a donation can either drop items off at their office between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or go to their website.

“Right now, I probably have 50 of everything,” Sanders says. “So we have a long way to go. But I know that we have a community that’s willing to give and willing to support.”

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