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Published: Tuesday, 8/31/2010

Volleyball teams go to net for a cause


One Sylvania student gave volleyball a good cause last week.

The freshman, junior varsity, and varsity volleyball teams from Eastwood and Northview high schools scrimmaged for charity on Aug. 23.

Donations were taken at the door for the Blue Pumpkin Campaign, conceived by a local student, Abbey Pawlak, to benefit the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center.

This is the second year that Northview has taken part in the event, which was hosted by the two high schools as well as Glass City Volleyball Club.

Abbey, an eighth grader at McCord Junior High School, founded the Blue Pumpkin Campaign in 2007, when she was just 10.

Inspired by the song "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride, which describes a young girl whose mother beats her to death, Abbey began painting pumpkins blue, to represent an abused child's bruises, selling them to her neighbors and donating the money to the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center.

She raised just more than $500 the first year. The next year, after expanding into T-shirts as well as organizing the first volleyball benefit, $1,700 came in.

Abbey Pawlak, 13, left, and Dana Hooper, right, director of Glass City Volleyball Co., arrange T-shirts for sale a the charity volleyball game at Northview. Abbey Pawlak, 13, left, and Dana Hooper, right, director of Glass City Volleyball Co., arrange T-shirts for sale a the charity volleyball game at Northview.
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"Children deserve to be safe," Abbey said.

The statement is Blue Pumpkins' tag line, and Sarah Corpening, the agency's chief executive officer, said it is what her organization is all about.

Ms. Corpening said Abbey's efforts bring much needed awareness to her organization, which, with offices across Lucas and Ottawa Counties, aims to intervene and educate to prevent abuse.

Because that is not a "warm and fuzzy" type of cause, Ms. Corpening explained, the center does not usually receive long-term support from, say, people it has helped.

She added that Abbey's efforts yield "unrestricted dollars" for a center that is often limited within United Way funding and various grants. Monday's event raised about $2,000.

Tony Geer, volleyball head coach at Northview, said the scrimmages were a good way to give the season an unofficial start.

He said the three Northview teams had been practicing all summer and were motivated to start competing.

"I think they're excited to do a charity event," Mr. Geer said of his athletes.

Northview's freshman and junior varsity teams both won their first games but ran out of time to finish the second games of the matches.

The Eastwood varsity team won both games of their match against Northview.

Abbey, who plays volleyball with Glass City, said she loves to play sports in her spare time.

She is also on the student council at McCord.

For more information about the Blue Pumpkins Campaign, visit bluepumpkin.org.

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