Colin VandenBerg
Staff Writer

On September 19, 2016, School District of Lancaster Buchannan Elementary held its annual Back-to-school Fair at Hamilton Park. For the sixth consecutive year, the fair ran smoothly thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Millersville Women’s Lacrosse team.

This year—as with past years—the Millersville volunteers operated the many games and activities necessary to keep the event going. PTO volunteer coordinator Carol Vanden Berg explained: “We do not have enough parent volunteers to cover [the activities necessary for the event].” She added, “The fair could not happen without the support of this team.”

For six years now, the Millersville Women’s Lacrosse team has volunteered at Buchannan Elementary’s back-to-school fair at Hamilton Park (Photo courtesy of Carol Vanden Berg).

According to Mrs. Vanden Berg, “We have 21 games and [activities], some needing two volunteers each at a time. [The volunteers] cover all of those games and activities for the 2 1/2 hours they are present.”

Millersville’s Women’s Lacrosse coach Mia Hall said that the team has been volunteering at the event for each of the six years that she has been the coach. “[Volunteering at the fair] is a nice [way], in the beginning of our [year], to get our program together outside of the lacrosse field [and] spend some much needed time away from our day to day routine. It is so rewarding working with the kids and their parents.”

Millersville senior Renee Landis said that she has been attending the event since she was a high school recruit. “Coach Hall has previously made the recruit visits the same weekend as the back to school [fair,] so as recruits we got to see some of the things the team does to give back.”

When asked if there have been any difficulties in coordinating with the school or operating the games, Landis and Coach Hall said that service offered its own rewards. According to Coach Hall, “Service is a main pillar in our behaviors as a program. We don’t really have any trouble getting girls to volunteer or be engaged in the games or activities that they [operate,] because they know that service is part of the makeup of our program. [The girls we recruit] understand that serving the University and the community around us is our mission.”

According to coordinators for the event, the athlete volunteers provide invaluable assistance (Photo courtesy of Carol Vanden Berg).

Landis echoed those sentiments: “We always end up having a good afternoon feeling like we’ve supported a great school. The volunteering is easy for a team like ours because we love playing along to games and enjoying the atmosphere just like the kids.”

Coach Hall recalled, “6 years ago when I was about 3 weeks into the [job], an email came across my mailbox from Darlene Newman, our assistant women’s basketball coach, asking if our program would want to help out with their program at Buchanan’s back to school Fair. [Buchanan] really wanted to move away from teachers and parents running the activities so that they could enjoy the fair with their children and students. It was a no-brainer for us to volunteer, and I thought it would be a great way for me to interact with my new team and for them to interact with each other. We had so much fun and the 3 hours we were there flew [by,] and it has now just become our gold standard first volunteer event we do as a program each year.”

As Coach Hall put it, “Volunteerism has so many unbelievable benefits and it makes us individually better people and collectively a much stronger and closer program.” Mrs. Vanden Berg stressed the significance of the team’s volunteer efforts: “if we did not have the team, we could not offer this very special annual fair to the students and families of Buchanan, not to mention the Hamilton Park neighborhood.”