It's never too late to tell the story of unselfish service to others

Members of the Mansfield Senior High and Lucas High School football teams donned “Live United” T-shirts for the Big Red Bookshelf celebration at the Richland Carrousel.

      Five members of the Mansfield Senior High varsity football team could have enjoyed the day off school on Presidents Day, Feb. 17. Instead, they joined four football players from Lucas High School to read to young children at Richland Carrousel Park.

      The occasion was a Big Red Bookshelf event arranged by United Way of Richland County.

      Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. more than 150 children read with the football players, then took home a free book titled “My New Friend is So Fun.” The kids also enjoyed free pizza and carrousel rides.

      The Tygers who participated were Jordan Gray, Marquis Troche’ Jr., Jordan Lootens, Aaron Wade and ZyQuan Hatcher.

      Dr. Holly Christie, Mansfield City Schools director of student support programs, helped to coordinate the event. In an email message to Tyger head football coach Chioke Bradley, she had high praise for the players.

      “I am not the least bit surprised how polite and kind these boys were,” Dr. Christie wrote. “They were on time – early, in fact – and helped me out whenever I needed it. The children loved seeing them there and hearing them read the books.

      “The fact that these boys gave up part of their day off to help out at the event speaks volumes and it did not go unnoticed by many community members.”

      Friendship among the Tygers and Lucas Cubs blossomed as each moved to the championship game in their respective divisions, Senior High in Div. III and Lucas in Div. VII. Both finished as runners-up.

      United Way’s Big Red Bookshelf project provides free new or gently-used books to children up to third grade in locations throughout Richland County where families with young children meet. The donated books are placed on bright red book shelves built by volunteers.

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