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Young hoopsters clean up memorial park

Playmakers Basketball Association also donates close to 100 hats to cancer patients

Posted: December 27, 2009 10:06 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Will Picketts, 11, left, and Alex Morales, 11, fill their bags with trash.

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During any other typical team gathering, the Playmakers would have been shooting hoops, running lines and passing basketballs.

But the Playmakers Basketball Association is about more than just basketball, said coach and founder Jeff St. Julien.

"We've got to give back," St. Julien, of Stevenson Ranch, said. "It's also to teach (the players) some responsibility and make them realize they're fortunate."

About 25 hoopsters, ranging in age from 7 to 14, from the local club basketball program worked as one cohesive team to pick up trash at Eternal Valley Memorial Park and donate close to 100 brand new hats for young cancer patients.

Eternal Valley staff will distribute the hats to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in early January, said Eternal Valley General Manager Richard Steinmetz.

For Assistant Coach Keith Gibbs and his son, D.B., a connection with cancer and death hits close to home.

D.B.'s grandfather died of cancer before the young ballplayer was born.

"My grandpa is buried over here," said D.B., 12, as he held a bag full of trash. "My mom told me a lot about my grandpa, so it's nice to know what I'm doing."

Before the players trekked up the memorial parks hills, Steinmetz thanked the group as they posed for a picture behind a "Playmakers pay it forward" sign. "What you're doing is very important," Steinmetz said to the kids. "There are a lot of children who can't play basketball or sports because of their cancer condition."

Steinmetz explained that because of chemotherapy, cancer patients lose their hair.

"So the hats you're bringing are very important to us and to them," he said.

Christopher Kodama, 10, enjoyed the community service with his teammates.

"I'm glad I'm here to volunteer and spend time with the Playmakers," he said.

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