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Basketball team serves moms, kids at shelter over holidays3 min read

January 19, 2016

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PHOTO COURTESY OF De Anza men’s basketball

Head coach Jason Damjanovic (left) and a few players from the De Anza men’s basketball team participated in helping at a local womens shelter right before the winter holidays.

In December, members of the De Anza men’s basketball team volunteered at a local women’s shelter.

 
The basketball team has volunteered at the shelter for the past five years, serving families who need the community’s support to get back on their feet. The shelter, known as Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, offers many services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

 
“During the holidays, we always want to do some type of community outreach,” said head coach Jason Damjanovic, who organizes the yearly event. “Student athletes need exposure, and especially with the prevalence of domestic violence lately, I think it’s important that they understand what’s going on around them.”

 
Next Door, the shelter, has been in operation for more than 45 years in San Jose and offers many services, including a 24/7 hotline, support groups, an emergency shelter and long-term housing.

 
Jeremy Ishimaru, 19, guard, who volunteered for the first time this year, enjoyed speaking with the children at the shelter.

 
“All of the kids seemed so happy and excited, and it made our team feel good about what we were doing,” Ishimaru said.

 
In the past, volunteers have split up the women and the children to help each group select and wrap a gift for the other. This year, however, there was a large number of people, almost three times as many as is typical for the event. As a result, the athletes worked different jobs, some serving food, others greeting families at the door and the rest wrapping gifts.

 
“It’s nice to see people giving back to the community, helping out families with gifts  that they would not usually be able to afford, and helping them out when they need it,” said Andrew Adams, 20, power forward, who worked as a greeter at the the event. “We were there to make sure people knew what was going on, wish them happy holidays and just to be friendly to them.”

 
Through talking with and getting to know the children, Adams said, he saw the importance of volunteer work and he hopes that his teammates did, too. He said he also wants events like these to positively impact the De Anza community.

 
“I hope that when people see athletes taking time out of their schedule to help out that it pushes them to do something, too,” Adam said.

 
Though limits restrict Damjanovic from bringing the whole team to volunteer, he said, he believes that those who attend bring a new dynamic to the group. After the event, the basketball team discussed the work they had done, reflecting on their experiences as a whole.

 
Damjanovic said he hopes the volunteer work helps the community understand that his players are more than the game they play or the stories that are heard in the media.

 
“We see them just as athletes and students all the time,” Damjanovic said. “But by doing this, you really get to see them in a whole new light.”

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