December 18, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
After K-State men's basketball defeated Ole Miss, and after fans filed out of Bramlage Coliseum, the K-State baseball team hung around.
The 2013 Big 12 Champions grabbed brooms and garbage bags and began, as a team, cleaning up after the arena's 11,000 plus fans.
Country music filled the air and the team began working to raise money so its adopted family could have a special Christmas surprise.
Every year during the holidays, K-State baseball comes together to raise money and purchase Christmas gifts for a local family in need. Though the team has never met this year's family, having the opportunity to give back to the community is something they all take to heart.
"It means a lot to me. My family kind of always did things like this for Christmas growing up," junior outfielder Mitch Meyer said. "So now I get to carry on the tradition with my team, my second family. It's a pretty good feeling to help someone out."
The money raised for cleaning up after the men's basketball games will be spent on gifts the adopted family wants and needs. Along with the cleaning, the team will also do the shopping.
"Half the team will go out and pick out the gifts while the other half will go out and deliver it to the family, so it's a neat deal," sophomore pitcher Blake McFadden said. "One, you're able to pick out what the family wants, and two, we're able to meet the family and see how excited they are. It's interesting seeing other people that are in need, that don't get as much or aren't as fortunate as us on the team. It's just a good feeling seeing we're giving them what they want and making them happy."
For sophomore catcher Alex Bee, seeing the happiness of the children he has a hand in helping is the best part.
"My favorite part is seeing the excitement in these little kids' eyes," Bee said. "I mean, I was once a little kid and I remember how cool it was to get something new. So just seeing what we do and that giving back makes their Christmas, their day and maybe even their year, it's just awesome."
The Wildcats cleaned Bramlage not once, but twice as it also spent time sweeping up messes after the basketball team took on Northern Colorado on Nov. 8. It takes about four hours to clean, and the team earns $400 per game - a total of $800 for its adopted families.
"It's a good feeling when our team can come together and do something like this," McFadden said. "It brings us together as a team and it's a good thing for us to get out into the community that supports us very well. To be able to support our community, any time you can help someone in need it feels great."
Meyer also agreed that giving back to the community is the least the team can do, especially during this time of year.
"This community gives back to every sports program here in Manhattan, so this is about just giving back more than you take," Meyer said. "It's kind of warming for this holiday season. It's really nice."
The gifts are scheduled to be delivered starting on Dec. 16 - a day K-State Baseball is looking forward to and won't soon forget.