May 04, 2012
By Scott P. Moore
Standard Staff Reporter
Lawrence High School and Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School junior varsity and varsity basketball teams suited up together for a good cause on Wednesday evening, playing two exhibition, mixed-team games in front of about 100 people at Lawrence High School. Funds raised by those attending the game would be donated to the Fivc Towns Community Center to help build a new game room.
The event, called “Teamwork Makes a Dream Work,” was the idea of a few of the HAFTR students after a class trip to New York City in October as part of a youth leadership group meeting.
“Some of the students decided on a fundraising project [after attending the meeting],” said Susan Szaluta, a college guidance counselor at HAFTR High School. “We have been working since January with the Community Center to improve diversity within our community. We wanted them to know the HAFTR community is 100 percent behind them. We want to help.”
Eventually, HAFTR was able to have Lawrence High School agree to both play and host the event, which aimed to raise awareness of the community center as well as cultural understanding between the two different schools.
“They all love sports,” said Szaluta. “When they started working on this, it was basketball season and they really wanted to do this.”
In addition to the basketball game, raffles for local stores’ gift cards and snack sales helped to raise additional funds during the game, as well as bring home a few extra winners.
“It has been three months of working hard and meeting with students,” said Veronica Ortiz, a youth advocacy counselor at the Five Towns Community Center and the project liaison for the center with HAFTR. “It started with brainstorming and our goal is to raise fund to enhance the game room at the Community Center.”
She added with a smile: “Tonight, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor!”
Players from both schools practiced together on the court before the matchup, which mixed the two school’s teams on either side to create an even game. HAFTR players parted when Lawrence stars Dwayne Daniel and Eddie Robinson showed off their slam dunk skills, both flying to the basket with ease. Smiles and “ohhhh!”s followed every attempt and follow through.
The games that followed could be best described as all-star like – little defense and lots of scoring. Both sides passed the ball a lot to get every player a shot during the exhibition. The varsity matchup pitted stars of both teams against each other and was down to the wire, with the final shot not being counted after being milliseconds late into the basket. The crowd, electrified by the final few minutes, loudly cheered the two teams, which shook hands and hugged after the match.
While the crowd went home happy, the Community Center and the students from both schools seemed to be the real winners – showing off in the sport both schools did well in this past season and giving their time for a good cause.
“We have had a lot of wonderful donations from local businesses,” noted Ortiz. “The kids went door to door and throughout the villages asking for donations. Thankfully, the community really opened up its arms and donated a lot for tonight.”
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