HHS Volleyball Tournament fundraises for a cause

Maeve Reiter, Reporter

Hershey High School brings students together through volleyball while also providing a chance to serve the community.

Luke Reid serves the ball during the 11 o’clock hour of the tournament. Students who participated in the volleyball tournament earlier payed an entry fee of five dollars which would go towards Mini-Thon and the Herren Project. (Broadcaster/Anna Callahan)

The Hershey High School holiday volleyball tournament takes place every year, right before winter break. The proceeds are donated to several charities, which this year are Mini-Thon and the Herren Project. 

The tournament began nine years ago when a student who had transferred from another school with a yearly volleyball tournament recommended the idea to the physical education department. Tami Scola, Hershey High School gym teacher, liked the idea and became the main director of it. Scola said, “We decided to make [the tournament] have community service along with it.” This way, the proceeds could help make a difference in the community while being a fun event for students.

Scola said, “Originally we didn’t do Thon every year.” The charities were chosen and voted on by the students, and a different one was chosen each year. When the student council got involved, they decided to match the money raised, and the physical education department began to pick the charities. Scola said, “That’s how we added Thon, so that way we could get to both.”

Mini-Thon is a part of the Four Diamonds charity, which raises money to search for a cure for childhood cancer. Every year, Mini-Thon, inspired by Thon, a 46-hour dance marathon held in State College every year, are hosted at schools to raise money for the Four Diamonds. Throughout the year, Hershey High School raises money through the club, student-run donor drives, and club-sponsored activities which lead up to Mini-Thon at the beginning of March.

Mofi Oladipo, a member of the Mini-Thon club and sophomore class president, who took place in the volleyball tournament as well, said, “half of the money goes to Mini-Thon, [and] student council is going to match the donations.” The money raised in the tournament will be matched by student council, and then split between Mini-Thon and the Herren Project.

This is the first year that the money will go partially towards the Herren Project. Paul Blackburn, a gym teacher at HHS, said, “$3200 [has been raised] for the Herren Project.” 

This money has been raised through an entry fee as well as custom volleyball jersey sales. “[There were] over 60 teams that got t-shirts. . . an additional 600 dollars to the Herren Foundation,” Scola says.

The Herren Project is an organization founded by Chris Herren in 2011, according to its main website. Herren founded it after years of struggling with addiction, which tarnished his reputation and chances to play as a professional basketball player in the NBA. He founded it to raise awareness and provide those in similar situations as him with help and hope. Herren travels to many schools throughout the US to speak out on topics like addiction, recovery, and seeking help through family, friends, and school. The charity was chosen this year with the health and wellness of Hershey High School students in mind, which is the main focus of the physical education department’s charity decisions each year.

The tournament brings the entire school together. High interest, as well as large turnout at the event, have made it incredibly successful in its nine years. The preparations leading up to the tournament are as important as the tournament, with physical education classes helping to decorate the gym, as well as the Mini-Thon club helping to organize donations.

“[It’s the] highlight of the school year and brings a lot of spirit and energy to the building,” Scola said, “Over $35,000 has been raised.”