The holiday season is the season of giving, so when Keene High sophomores and boys hockey team members Jonah Murphy and Leo Ballaro had the opportunity to give back, they took it.
On Saturday, Murphy and Ballaro volunteered as bell ringers for the Salvation Army as part of the Interact Club. They spent an hour outside of the Walmart in Keene raising money that goes right back into the community.
“I kind of owe my community to help,” Ballaro said. “I realized I’m pretty lucky to live in a nice town like Keene where there’s a lot of opportunities for me and I want to try to give back.
“That’s what it is for me, just to give back.”
The money raised goes towards various Salvation Army programs, such as feeding programs and food pantries, said Lt. David LaBossiere, the Core Officer at the Keene Salvation Army.
“It’s a lot more than people see sometimes, so we’re very appreciative of the people who are willing to volunteer their time and help us with that,” LaBossiere said.
“It’s encouraging to see young people, especially those who are already busy with things like sports – that takes up a lot of their time – so it’s especially encouraging to me to see that they’re interested in spending their own time doing something that helps people in this community,” he added.
In this pandemic year, volunteers can sometimes be hard to come by, LaBossiere said. So any extra help is appreciated.
Interact Club members took shifts throughout the day to raise money. LaBossiere said the group, as a whole, raised more than $1,100. He even had to switch out the kettle in the middle of the day because it filled up.
Ballaro guessed that he and Murphy raised about $200 during their shift.
“I try to do something every time I can, because I usually have a pretty busy schedule, so I wanted to go out there and just help,” Ballaro said.
So why do they do it?
“To be able to give back to people who are less fortunate than me and … don’t have the same luxuries as other people,” Murphy said. “Just to give back.”
And this isn’t a one-off thing. It’s common to find Ballaro and Murphy giving back to the community, whether it’s through groups like the Interact Club or through their team’s events.
“Developing good hockey players is definitely not the No. 1 priority of the team, program or even the high school,” said Keene boys hockey head coach Chris McIntosh. “It’s all about the kids being good kids, good community members.
“We have talented hockey players, but most importantly, it’s just a good group of young men and Leo and Jonah really fall into that category,” McIntosh added.