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Redbank Valley Football Comes Up Big for Veterans in Need

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Community service is a cornerstone of the Redbank Valley football program, and while COVID-19 has made volunteerism a challenge, the Bulldogs still found a way to help those in need.

(Photo: Cam Wagner and Brandon Ross after delivering their donations to Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center.)

The squad recently led a massive fundraising effort, unifying the school and New Bethlehem community to donate 1,500 pounds of food and hygiene products to the Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center in Cowansville, a community-based residential treatment center for homeless veterans needing rehabilitation and support.

Redbank Valley head coach Blane Gold credited fellow offensive coordinator Jason Kundick with developing the idea for the drive.

“Jason called me one day after school in February telling me that he had seen a post online about items that were needed by the center. Coach Kundick is a veteran himself and told me he couldn’t get the post out of his mind, and [he] wanted to do something. I told him that I’d put together the drive, and he worked extremely hard in securing monetary donations to purchase meat products.”

The drive’s original goal was to fill nine boxes full of donations, but an outpouring of support from the community forced the program to expand. The Redbank Valley senior class stepped up in a big way, donating around 600 pounds of food and supplies.

The entire football team collaborated to ensure the campaign’s success, sharing the work of promoting the drive and collecting and delivering supplies.

“Gunner Mangiantini helped me make a promotional video for Twitter and Facebook to kick off [the drive]. Brandon Ross and Cam Wagner did all of the heavy lifting in loading and delivering the donations. Players and students alike helped spread the word to secure donations from outside of the school,” said Gold.

The Bulldogs pride themselves on community service, and Gold was excited to find an opportunity to contribute after COVID-19 took away some of their typical methods of service.

“Community service is one of our core values. We typically like to get out into the community and provide labor for those who may need help, but COVID hindered that a bit this past season.

“For example, in 2019, we helped set up booths at the Peanut Butter Festival. The seniors also typically host a free youth flag football league in the fall, but that was affected by the pandemic. Since we lost those things, it was nice to be able to do this drive to fulfill our desire to serve our community that supports us so much.”

Acts of service go a long way to ensure the health and safety of all citizens, and the Redbank Valley Football Team, Redbank Valley School District, and the New Bethlehem community can take pride in their willingness to step up for those in need.