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Cherokee coach Josh Shaw, right, joins players as they participate in a drive to collect school supplies and clothing for local children.

Cherokee football players had a chance to give back to their community last week when they volunteered in school supply and clothing drive for Give a Kid a Chance.

Give a Kid a Chance is a charity that provides school supplies and clothing to families in need. It was started in 2006 by Liberty Hill United Methodist Church in Canton and has since helped more than 19,000 students.

“One of the big things for our team is serving others,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “We talk about it a lot. I think the kids see how important it is to give back to the community and look at the world outside of football.”

Cherokee brought its entire roster, and the players' skills were put to good use. They were responsible for loading the supplies onto trucks at a warehouse and unloading the supplies at the distribution center at Canton First Baptist.

The experience offered a different kind of challenge than traditional summer workouts.

“It doesn’t take too long, because we have 75 kids doing it,” Shaw said. “We move it from the warehouse to the trucks. The trucks drive over to the church, and we unload it there. We stack everything up in there for them to pass out to the families. They may rather be working out, though. Those trucks are not cool. The backs are not air-conditioned, and it can be a little difficult at times.”

In addition to the work it takes, Shaw said the experience can also be a good team-building activity for a young team looking for a return to the postseason. It lets players see each other outside of typical football activities and can offer perspective football cannot.

“It’s great for our kids to mingle as a team,” Shaw said. “It’s something everyone is welcome to come help, and we really try to get as many people there as we can. Our kids are just excited to help others.”

Shaw said he tries to get his team to volunteer for at least one charity a year, and while they are not necessarily always aimed at children, he said working with younger kids is always a special experience for his team.

“We have kids, so naturally they want to help other kids,” Shaw said. “That’s just the way it works out. A lot of things through the county are aimed toward the younger population. They enjoy seeing the younger kids happy about it as well.”

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