NORMAN, Okla. - With its fall season complete and spring practice not scheduled to begin for another month, the Oklahoma softball team is donating its time and effort to helping those in need.
Working in three shifts that each last an hour and a half, the team has spent this week at Mission Norman, a non-profit organization featuring Bible studies and a food pantry that is supported solely by volunteers and charitable individuals, according to its official website.
The OU student-athletes volunteered their services by stocking shelves and putting together boxes to carry the food. The Sooners also helped individuals pick out their food and bring the boxes out to the patrons' cars.
"We try to do little things here and there when we have a chance," senior pitcher Michelle Gascoigne said. "But this time of year is when people really are in the most need of help, and it's also the time that we are most free, so we try to do a lot."
Mission Norman, which is in its fifth year at its East Lindsey Street location, says the food pantry provides food once every 30 days to needy individuals and families. The food pantry supplies enough food for about one week. If recipients request food before the 30 days are up, Mission Norman may give them an emergency box, which will last them another day or two.
Approximately 1,500 people utilize the pantry each month.
"It's really humbling," Gascoigne said of her experience volunteering. "It also just goes to show you that you don't have to do a lot to help out and make an impact. Just being there and providing an extra pair of hands, you can do a lot for someone."
Fellow senior Keilani Ricketts echoed Gascoigne's sentiments.
"It's great to help out people that need it, especially this time of year," Ricketts explained. "It's also great getting to know the workers and other volunteers. They're really friendly and have genuine hearts. To work with them helps a lot."
A recent canned food drive on campus brought even more items to Mission Norman.
"It was cool to see where that ended up because we gave cans to it," Gascoigne explained. "It's neat to see the people that are actually receiving the donated items."
After volunteering on Tuesday and Thursday, the Oklahoma softball team will also help at the food pantry on Friday.