By Allison Di Gennaro
In December, while many children were dreaming of what they might receive for Christmas, the junior varsity basketball team at St. Joseph School in Knoxville was only dreaming about how they could give back.
The JV team, composed of St. Joseph fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-grade students, organized the first Charity Christmas Inter-Squad Scrimmage on Dec 15. Led by head coach Sal Di Gennaro and assistant coach Owen Dougharty, the night featured the JV boys splitting into two teams to compete for school bragging rights, a 3-point shootout at halftime, a prize for the student who sold the most tickets to the event, and family photos with St. Nick.
But the big win came in the form of a donation from the JV team to the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic. After learning about the great work of the mobile medical clinic, the boys decided that half of the evening’s proceeds should go straight to the clinic. This donation helps to assist the clinic in its charitable mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ throughout East Tennessee.
The St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic rolls across East Tennessee to help serve those in need and has been compared to a doctor’s office on wheels. Making stops along the way at partner sites throughout the Diocese of Knoxville, the clinic brings much-needed health-care services to those without insurance at no charge to the patient.
The St. Joseph JV boys team raised a total of $1,274, of which $637 was donated to the clinic. Receiving the funds during halftime were Sister Mary Lisa Renfer, RSM, who is the clinic’s medical director, and Sister Celeste Mary Poche, RSM, who serves as the clinic’s nurse practitioner.
When asked why the team decided to commit to raising money for a Catholic ministry, Coach Di Gennaro stated, “I believe it is important for these young men to learn at an early age that charity, the giving of oneself, and supporting those who are in need, is truly what Christmas is about. This type of event offers them an opportunity to participate in the work of the Church and see, firsthand, how their act of service will touch the lives of people throughout East Tennessee. They did a great job marketing the game and raising money for an awesome cause! Let’s go Bulldogs!”