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Mathews scores for cats and dogs

VIENNA — The Mathews High School girls varsity basketball team’s giving spirit was in full force as it collected 3,000 pounds of dog and cat food for the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County.

The 15-member team recently made the presentation to the league in time for the holidays.

Team captains Ashley Deans, a senior, and Mya MacGregor, a junior, said this is the second year the team has helped the group.

“We were very successful last year, and we wanted the chance to do something that we knew would benefit people and their pets even though our season was in jeopardy because of the coronavirus,” Deans said.

MacGregor said their team is scheduled to go back to practice this week.

Jennifer Deans, a parent, said the team came up with the idea last year and started collecting items in October and then were informed the season was going to be postponed.

“The team got together, and said they were still going to do this even if we can’t play together,” she said.

Ashley Deans said the local Dollar General and other local businesses were dropoff sites, and Giant Eagle and Walmart donated items. Residents of the local community left donations.

They reached out on social media to people who made monetary donations.

The items were collected last year at the games and at school, but the team found alternative ways.

“This is more than we expected to get considering the circumstances this year,” Deans said.

They said the pandemic made the team think of ways to be able to collect items.

In addition to cat and dog food and toys, the team also collected cleaning supplies.

Deans and MacGregor said the team finds ways to give back to the community with all the support received by the public for the basketball team.

“We want to show the public we are more than just a sports team. We want to help in the community in whatever way we can,” Deans said.

The team is led by coach Steve Sponsler.

Lori Shandor, executive director of Animal Welfare League, said the donation “makes a huge difference” helping the increased number of animals at the shelter.

“This provides food for the animals here internally and also for our food pantry, which we have to help people in the community who have pets and need food for them,” Shandor said.

She said the food pantry was started a year ago to help families and, due to the pandemic with people not working the need has grown.

“When COVID happened we expanded our food pantry. Previously, people had to live or work in Trumbull County and now we are serving all of Mahoning Valley,” Shandor said.

The team toured league operations, which has had to be closed for most of the year due to the pandemic.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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