Every year, as a way to give back to the community, the Liverpool High School girls’ volleyball teams hold a craft fair at the high school.
This year, they’re doing a little something more.
The teams will be collecting fabric to make blankets for the children at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. The idea came from one of the varsity team’s captains, Meg Stonebarger, who spent a week at Golisano this past spring after having her wisdom teeth removed and developing a severe infection that ultimately spread to her arm.
“I was in the hospital at Golisano this past spring, and all summer I was thinking about how they helped me, and I really wanted to do something to give back to them,” Stonebarger said. “It’s not like it feels very homey.”
Stonebarger said the team usually makes jersey blankets for graduating seniors. The blankets seemed like a perfect gift for the children at Golisano.
“It comes from the heart, and for our volleyball program to do that, I think, would be really important,” she said. “It’s really hard to be in a situation like that for anyone. Those kids want to see other kids. They want to get out and have fun. At least giving something that can bring them comfort, I think, would be really nice.”
Fellow team member Emily Flohr agreed.
“We’re really fortunate. Like, at the holidays, we’re going to be able to sit and open presents and have Christmas dinner and watch movies all day. Some kids aren’t going to have that,” Flohr said. “These blankets will be something that can comfort them and make them feel a little more at home so they have something a little more sentimental. It’s more than just a Christmas gift. It’s something that’s coming from us [to say], ‘Hey, we’re not forgetting about you.’ It’ll be good for them.”
The varsity team, coached by Joe Brainerd, is made up of Flohr, Stonebarger, Amanda Lauricella, Sam Wolf, Dallas Merola, Ciara Duck, Julia Mumpton, Amari Smith, Ivanna Grynyk, Maggie Conklin, Amelia Baratier and Jamie Bugnacki. Meanwhile, members of the JV team are Karlie King, Mikayla Brown, Kirstie DeMauro, Morgan Bacik, Veronica Sanchez, Mia Latifagic, Katie Boak, Megan Fitzpatrick, Julia Flohr, Jasmine Williams, Nicole Sedlock, Alexis McLaggen, Amra Abadzic and Alicia Pluff.
The JV team is coached by Melanie Stonebarger, who happens to be Meg’s mom. She noted that the blanket project was something close to her daughter’s heart after their experience at Golisano this past spring, though the teams take on some kind of charity project in conjunction with the craft fair annually.
“We try to do something every year for some sort of a fundraiser or charity event, something to give back to the community, and that’s what she wanted to do this year,” Coach Stonebarger said. “I’m hoping that it sticks and they continue to do this year after year after year, because it’s a fun idea. It’s all the girls involved, and it’s giving back to those kids. It’s like I said to her — ‘It’s like you’re wrapping your arms around them. You made that blanket. It’s like you’re giving them a hug with that blanket.’ So hopefully they’ll enjoy it.”
The teams are accepting donations of jersey fabric as well as monetary donations, and the volleyball booster clubs will match any monetary donations received. The teams have also put the word out to the student population to ask for donations. Both the varsity and JV teams will make the blankets, and members of the varsity team will deliver them some time before the holidays.
“I think it’s a little surprising when they get up to the hospital and see all those kids, because even I didn’t realize when I was there with Meg just how hard it really is,” Coach Stonebarger said. “They do everything that they can at Golisano to make their lives as normal as they can, from pizza parties on Fridays to movie nights, they have everything. They have a library there. They’re phenomenal. But it’s still not home. And to be there at the holidays… So I hope they enjoy it.”
The craft fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Nov. 2, at the high school.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.