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Nov. 24, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The SEC sponsors Community Service Teams for all 20 league sponsored sports. The Community Service Team looks to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts. The seventh annual women’s volleyball Community Service Team follows:

Olivia Ryder, Redshirt Freshman, Outside Hitter, South Carolina
Ryder helped out at the Junior Gamecock Halloween Party, Family Reading Night at Hand Middle School, and the USC VB Outreach Academy. Ryder also worked with kids from City of Columbia parks at the Summer Sports Camp Program, the Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive, Boy Scout Day with the Gamecocks and raised donations during Dig for the Cure efforts.

Alyssa Meuth, Junior, Right Side Hitter, Alabama
Spent time working with students at the afterschool program at a local elementary school … worked with 2-3 year olds and 3-5 year olds at a child development center … visited elderly at the retirement home … read stories to kindergarten classes at local elementary schools … spoke with students about the importance of school and saying no to drugs and local schools and camps … volunteers at RISE Center interacting with children that have disabilities.

Lindsay Scanlan, Senior, Setter, Arkansas
Scanlan participates in programs like Book Hogs and Sweat Hawgs which impact local elementary schools. The Book Hogs program emphasizes reading with rewards for top readers and top schools, including visits from the Razorback student-athletes. In Sweat Hawgs, elementary students (grades 3 through 5) are made aware of the positive impact of physical fitness in hopes of building good exercise habits. Scanlan also helps with Razorbacks for Christmas, another opportunity for the Arkansas student-athletes to interact with local children during the holidays. She has also been active in the athletic department’s projects for the local Race for the Cure. This past year, Scanlan was part of the Razorbacks’ Lift Up America efforts which provide supplies for food banks and shelters in the Northwest Arkansas area. The entire Razorback volleyball team, including Scanlan, collected can goods at local grocery stores during the SEC-wide Together We Can initiative.

Sara Shanks, Junior, Setter, Auburn
Shanks played Bingo and other activities with the Oak Park Retirement Home residents…Read Across America…Interacted with the community and signed autographs at Auburn CityFest…Joined the entire team and opened car doors at area elementary schools…Reading at Richland Elementary – As a team, Auburn read at the school once a week, having each player do it twice from Sept. -Dec. 2008…Took part in the Downtown Trick or Treat…Oct. 29

Kristina Johnson, Senior, Middle Blocker, Florida
Has volunteered with the intramural program at Stephen Foster Elementary School and also has assisted at Prairie View Elementary and Howard Bishop Middle School, all in the Gainesville area. Has volunteered at Shands Medical Plaza and has participated extensively in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp. Also participated in Shands involvement in the Children’s Miracle Network. Spent much time volunteering with the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s Read Around the Clock program and the Cure for Design Fasion show. Also has participated in the Generation Connection at Woodlawn Park. Has volunteered with the Five Points of Life Marathon for Life South. Following graduation, has plans to do missionary work in Africa beginning this coming January.

Kathleen Gates, Sophomore, Setter, Georgia
The 2009 team captain is a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and in that role, participated in the SEC Together We CAN Drive. Gates is also member of the UGA Health Center John Fontaine, Jr., Center for Alcohol Awareness and Education Student Advisory Committee, where she works to promote alcohol awareness to fellow UGA students including at a pre-Halloween Tate Health event. Gates is a member of several other groups including AutismUGA and the American Medical Student Association at UGA. As a member of Autism UGA, Gates volunteered for several events, such as Real Saturdays and the Walk for Autism at Barnett Shoals Elementary to raise money for the Autism Speaks organization. A proven leader, Gates was recently appointed to the position of Director of Autism Awareness on the Board of Directors for AutismUGA, a position she will take over in the spring semester. Gates has also found time in her schedule to make local hospital visits with UGAMIRACLE. Additionally, Gates is a leader for Team United and an active member of Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Athens. With Team United, she attends a weekly bible study and weekly leadership meetings. Through her church, Gates participated in the 2009 Relay for Life, spent her 2009 spring break on a mission trip to New Orleans to provide disaster relief and build homes for hurricane victims. Furthermore, Gates plans on using the upcoming 2010 spring break to go on another mission trip to Panama.

BriAnne Sauer, Senior, Libero, Kentucky
Senior BriAnne Sauer has been an active member in the Lexington community since her arrival on campus … Sauer has logged more hours than any other member on the UK squad with community service hours … She is a regular visitor at the UK Children’s Hospital … Sauer has regularly worked volleyball camps and clinics including the Cooperstown Sports Clinic, Girl Scout Volleyball clinic and the YMCA volleyball clinic … Additionally, Sauer has spent time helping the Salvation Army and the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans … She along with some of her teammates worked for Habitat for Humanity … Sauer has also participated in a number of physical activities to aid the community including the Jumpin Jags Health kickoff, Skeeter Johnson walk and the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge … Finally, Sauer has also spent time working at the Lighthouse Ministries as a server and a visitor and spent time with the youth by helping with the Junior Wildcat Club autograph signing.

Lauren DeGirolamo, Senior, Middle Blocker, LSU
DeGirolamo’s community service projects include volunteering at the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystophy Association Telethon, spearheading the volleyball activity center at the Halloween BOOzar where they provided a safe safe Halloween experience for local kids. DeGirolamo and her teammates also adopted an underprivileged child and are raising money to provide the child with toys, clothes, and other presents for the holidays. She hosted a local elementary student and shadowed her at LSU for the day as part of Big Buddy Program’s Day of a Mentor. She also participated at Big Buddy’s Evening of Champions event as a role model to the program. DeGirolamo visited patients and cheered them up going room-to-room at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, and was a Best Buddies Friendship Walk participant with mentally challenged youth, a volunteer at Citivan’s Mardi Gras Dance with Mentally Challenged adults and cheered on kids to finish a race at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Strides & Rides event. She also promoted reading to Middle School kids and stressed importance of going to college through Hit the Books Running.

Emily Kvitle, Junior, Setter/Defensive Specialist, Mississippi
Emily is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and is also an Executive Committee member. She has been heavily involved with several community service projects in and around the Ole Miss and Oxford community, including: Reading With The Rebels at local elementary schools; Rebel Re-run to collect tennis shoes and sneakers for children in Africa; and the SEC Canned Food Drive to help stock the local food pantry and feed members of the Oxford community.

Dorey Gray, Senior, Setter, Mississippi State
Active as a mentor in the Big Brother-Big Sister program in Starkville Participant in Bully’s Book Blitz, an MSU M-Club-sponsored program that encourages reading among Starkville elementary school students at Ward-Stewart Elementary School Volunteered to read to students at Sudduth Elementary School in Starkville Served as an instructor in a free youth volleyball clinic conducted at the Starkville Boys and Girls Club Participant in the MSU M-Club’s annual Thanksgiving canned food drive, distributing and picking up grocery bags in Starkville neighborhoods and later assisting with the distribution of food to needy families in the community Volunteer worker at Special Olympics event on the MSU campus Assisted with the annual MSU Halloween Carnival for Starkville youth Assisted with the SEC’s “Together We Can” canned food drive Move-in day volunteer for MVNU2MSU, joining faculty, staff and other students assisting new students in their move into on-campus housing at Mississippi State. Also active volunteer with hometown project in Florida (Brevard County Zoo)

Leah Hinkey, Junior, Middle Blocker, Tennessee
Hinkey participated in Holiday Dinner for the Homeless, where she hosted guests from a local shelter on campus for a meal and gifts. She also helped with Teams for Toys where they purchase, wrap and give Christmas gifts to an underprivileged local child. Additionally, Hinkey worked Habitat for Humanity and helped paint the outside of a house for a single mother and her two kids. Last Spring, She helped with April Play Day and hosted kids from the Boys and Girls Club on campus for a day of fun and inspirational motivation. Hinkey is also Tennessee’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for the volleyball team.