My freshman year of high school I visited Heartland Children’s Home for the first time with the Geneva basketball team. I was taken aback by the overwhelming emotion of the experience. In several rooms on the first floor, babies with debilitating health issues due to abuse and neglect were lovingly nurtured and cared for. As the owner of Heartland explained each child’s story, I couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness and sadness. There’s nothing that compares to seeing innocent children suffering from trials they never should have to experience. I wasn’t the only one affected by the ministry done at Heartland. I will never forget seeing several of the older players with tears in their eyes towards the end of the tour. As difficult as it was seeing those children who were especially struggling, joy abounded at the home. Sprawled in all directions, children and basketball players alike played basketball, ran around, or simply sat and talked with one another. The presence of the Lord was evident in the relationships that formed that day. Knowing the significance of Heartland, returning basketball players look forward every year to play for something bigger than themselves.
Two years ago, I prepared to take over Hoops for Heartland from alumni Katie Drees. My visits to Heartland became more frequent and my relationships deepened. I looked forward to seeing the children’s familiar faces, often at their mercy to play the most spontaneous games. When I began attending Boerne Young Life Capernaum my junior year, I was surprised that I recognized several of the teenagers with special needs from Heartland. That day, I spent the entire time drawing with a Heartland teenager who I have come to know and love.
On November 20th, the Geneva Rhetoric Basketball program will visit Heartland Children’s Home for the fifth time. The mission of this place is powerful and makes a difference in the lives of children who have experienced trials that many cannot begin to imagine. The relationships and memories formed during Hoops for Heartland stay with our basketball families long after the season ends and the jerseys are put away.
The Hoops for Heartland Games are scheduled for December 6th and December 11th. While the logic school boys will play on December 6th, the rest of the program will face off against their opponents at home on December 11th. In place of a gate fee, we are asking that visitors consider giving a donation towards Heartland Home. I pray that you and your family consider giving some of the things that Heartland needs for the holidays. We suggest donating things such as diapers, wipes, children’s toys, gift cards to Walmart or Target, batteries, or cash donations. In addition, a donation box will be set up in the gym lobby until up until the day of the games.
Because of their diverse range of needs, Heartland is always looking for volunteers to spend time with the children. Three years ago, they expanded their facilities and are always in need of additional support. For more information, please visit their website at http://heartlandchildrenshome.blogspot.com/.