Tech volleyball players bring forth smiles at Carilion Clinic holiday party

ROANOKE, Va. – With more than 100 families at Carilion Clinic’s holiday party Friday evening, five Virginia Tech volleyball players took part in a group that volunteered and put on the annual event at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

In a visit coordinated by the athletic department’s Office of Student-Athlete Development, five Hokies made the trip up to Roanoke, including middle blocker Cara Cunningham, outside hitter Kelly Esch, defensive specialist Rhana Mitchell, setter Mandy Powers and defensive specialist Haley Price.

Numerous kids took part in the action by playing board games, taking pictures with Santa Claus and getting their faces painted by some Hokies.

“It felt really good to be with the kids because we have been collecting for them all year,” Powers said. “Obviously, we didn’t know where they were going or what it would be like to meet the kids one-on-one. So, now we kind of see what we’ve done all year and how it was impacting, which for me was the coolest part. It was interesting to do something behind the scenes, but to actually get to see who it is going to is the best part for me.”

The time by the Tech student-athletes was well spent, and one that ultimately brought joy to a group of people dealing with unfortunate circumstances during the holiday season.

“It has definitely been a blessing to really be a part of all of the fun tonight, with seeing all of the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Price said. “It was fun talking to them, seeing their background and parents light up watching them play games and do crafts, and just truly spending some quality time as a family.”

Arguably the best scene of day was when the event began and the kids rushed to the face painting and bingo tables, held down by the Hokies. The five players showcased their craft and interpersonal communication skills, from painting Christmas trees and reindeers to managing the bingo crowd.

A raffle took place following the family dinner as kids received video games, clothes, board games and more.

The seniors’ project this fall came to a close in its final match of the season versus Pitt on Nov. 22, following a number of fans bringing multiple items throughout the season. The team partnered with Carilion Children's to collect items such as books, toys, games, clothes, toiletries and more, and will be making the trek up to the Roanoke later this month to give the toys to the hospital.

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