By Brianna Kudisch | Echo
A navy blue coat with a furry hood.
That's something many students may already own, but if not, they can easily go out to the store and buy one.
However, not everyone has that luxury-which is the case for a young girl in one of the families that received presents from Secret Families, a Christian Christmas ministry. Last Saturday, Dec. 3, both the men's and women's golf team and the women's tennis team volunteered to sort and deliver gifts for Secret Families.
Al Holdren founded Secret Families in Muncie in 2004 with the aim of providing assistance to families in need over the Christmas season. Living in Muncie, Holdren works for Atlas Collections as a VP and Director of Sales.
Local school principals provide the organization with the names of underprivileged families, and in turn, the families receive holiday gifts: a decorated Christmas tree, presents for the entire family, a $50 Meijer gift card for a Christmas dinner and a Bible.
Volunteers choose the family's' presents and are often given basic descriptions along with the specific sizes, such as a blue coat in a small size. These gifts are provided anonymously, and the families are not aware of donors' generosity until the presents are delivered to their doors.
"I believe God simply wants us to be great servants and spread his love to those needing a ray of hope," Holdren said. He began Secret Families by helping two families, and the ministry now serves hundreds in the span of five counties-394 families as of 2015.
They have anywhere from a few to 2,000 volunteers helping each year. For the past four years, Taylor's golf team has participated, and for the past two years, the women's tennis team has volunteered with the intention of making it a regular Christmas event.
One of the Secret Families sponsors is the Muncie Meijer. Shortly before 6 a.m., the women's tennis team arrived to shop for a few families. Their primary job involved sorting gifts from the checkout lanes to the trucks that would transport them to the Toyota dealership in Muncie, another sponsor, to be wrapped.
The Taylor golf teams sorted and delivered the presents to the families.
"As we sort and carry bag after bag of gifts, you can't help but imagine the joy those gifts are going to bring to families all over our community on Christmas Day," Cam Andry, head coach of the men's and women's golf teams, said. "There is no doubt God is glorified through Secret Families."
Andry sees the golf team's involvement in Secret Families as a small part of a much larger organization. He desires to see the ministry highlighted for its generosity and ability to serve those less fortunate.
Jini Morgan, the women's tennis team head coach, believes student athletes are given a unique opportunity to serve their communities through the platform they have.
Many athletic teams at Taylor participate in community service in some way throughout the year. For example, the track team will be going to the Bahamas this J-term with a two-fold purpose: to serve and to compete.
Kyle Gould, Taylor's athletic director, sees the significance of serving ministries-both at home and abroad.
"While many of our athletic teams will be serving all over the world on J-term trips this year," he said, "these teams working with Secret Families here in our community is a great reminder that our call to serve starts at home and should be a part of our daily lives."
Serving benefits not only the communities surrounding the athletes, but also the athletes themselves. The athletes see the value in putting Taylor's servant leadership talk into action.
Sophomore Mikayla Schultz believes volunteering is an opportunity to show Christ's love. She views her time with Secret Families as a reminder of what God has given her.
"I think it's important for Christians to be involved in service because Jesus called us to follow him and to live as he lived," junior Mitch Lamping, a men's golf player, said. "This is essentially a calling to serve and to love."