Giving back to the community was a uniform mission of the North Laurel High School girls basketball team over the past month.

On Wednesday, they did just that.

While their classmates were enjoying a day off school, these students ranging from seventh to 12th grade were up early, practicing for their opening night next Tuesday.

But after practice ended, the team headed to Saint Joseph London with a mission in mind - donating toys and other items to the pediatric patients at the hospital.

Assistant coach Jessica Ledington spearheaded the effort among team members, launching their collection efforts in early November. In just weeks, the girls had gathered a large supply of items that would cheer up the children who found themselves as patients at the hospital.

The array of items also offered hope and cheer to the recipients of the gifts.

"Hope you feel better soon!" "You're a tough cookie. Get better soon!" "I love you Pig Time!" and other greetings were attached to each one of the stuffed animals.

"It's just our way of giving back to the community," Ledington said of the team's efforts. "We just wanted to make someone feel better."

Jo Smith, Volunteer Services Manager for KentuckyOne Saint Joseph London, was thrilled with the effort, praising the girls for their generosity. The items will be stored and distributed to children who are admitted to the hospital.

"They did an amazing job and we're so appreciative of them," Smith said.

Team members participating in the event were: Meg Anderson, Isabel Gray, Hailee Valentine, Kinsley Blair; Tyra Fields, Jaelyn Black, Gracie Jervis, Chelsey Hammons, Courtney Carroll, Bailee Root, Kendall Hacker, Savanna Harvey, Katie Bruner, McKinlea Hubbard and Raegan Hubbard; Assistant coaches Jessica Ledington and Robin Hacker. Jo Smith is pictured in the top row with the girls. Not present was head coach Eddie Mahan and Assistant coach Ethan Eversole.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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