I’m not sure Matthew Dorczuk, a fourth grader at Myrtle Beach Elementary School, needed anyone’s help finding all the things on his Christmas list.
But alongside him, as he navigated the aisles of his local Target store, was Andrew Jackson High School’s 215- pound running back Trey Thompson, one of the all-stars playing in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach. Thompson, a member of the South squad, teamed up with his North squad counterpart, J.L. Mann High School defensive lineman Jacari Bennett, to help Matthew score some clothes, a drone, a microphone and a Rubik’s cube.
Ever since South Carolina’s electric cooperatives began sponsoring one of the South’s oldest high school football all-star games in 2013, the Christmas shopping spree has been part of the bowl week’s festivities. And as much as we enjoy cheering the on-field achievements of the young men who help bring our communities together on fall Friday nights, electric cooperatives across the state also celebrate and encourage their strong and developing character.
On the Thursday before the annual all-star game in early December, 44 deserving elementary school students from Myrtle Beach Elementary School meet 88 of the best high school football players in South Carolina. Once they are matched with players from each team, the trios are equipped with a curated list of items that include a mix of the child’s needs (usually clothes) and wants (usually toys) and a $150 gift card provided by the electric cooperatives.
The all-stars are tasked with assisting the children, helping them find the items on their lists, assuring clothes fit and that they have a good time. Perhaps their most difficult duty is trying to keep the purchases within the allotted card balance.
More important, the players have a chance to be positive role models in a community beyond their own.
“We got to show them that there are still good people in the world,” says Thompson. “It was great experience to look out for the kids and help make a change.”
Lynches River Electric and South Carolina’s other Touchstone Energy Cooperatives sponsor the bowl game not just to recognize these young men for their athletic ability, but for their character on and off the field and to help them develop a true spirit of camaraderie and friendships that last a lifetime.