Just a few weeks before the Illawarra Hawks light up the court in the NBL competition players and coaching staff have helped light up a few lives.
Illawarra’s National Basketball League team joined Lighthouse senior leader Paul Bartlett and local chef Aaron Anderson, of Bill & James Dinging in Balgownie, at Lighthouse Church on Thursday night to help out at the Lighthouse Community Kitchen.
The elite squad of sporting stars helped cook up a pre-season storm and serve the food to 120 locals free of charge.
Mr Anderson and his staff have been supporters of the Illawarra Hawks for several seasons and jumped at the opportunity to participate at Lighthouse Community Kitchen with the team.
And along with being a senior minister Mr Barlett has been the Illawarra Hawks chaplain for many years is again this season which starts with an away game on October 6 before the first home game is played at WIN Stadium on October 22.
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He said it was great to involve the players in the community kitchen initiative which was integral to helping families from across the region who might be doing it a bit tough, lonely, homeless or just can't afford to put dinner on the table every night for the family.
“The initiative has already dished up over 3000 meals this year,” Mr Bartlett said.
“Each meal represents more than just a person fed, it also represents a connection made, a greater sense of belonging for people in this community. We have a vision to not just feed people but to get to know them. We create an experience every Thursday night with a pop-up-restaurant, a two course meal free of charge served by volunteers who wait on our guests. We love to bring dignity and honour to people. With my experience being involved with the Hawks they are such a great community based club and we are very appreciative of this partnership.”
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Hawks coach Rob Beveridge said he and Mr Bartlett both thought it was a good idea to invite the players to be involved in the community work.
“Paul and I are very like minded. I talk to my players about how lucky they are and this is a good opportunity for us to give back to the community. It also helps the players understand how lucky they are in life and there are people out there who need help. We have a tremendous group of guys in the team. Many do social work already. None of them hesitated to do this whatsoever. It was a great thing for our players to help out tonight,”
Mr Bartlett said the Lighthouse Community Kitchen would love to hear from different community organisations and businesses interested in supporting its important work in the community.
Partners already include Orange Sky Laundry, University of Wollongong, Cedars & Edmund Rice and Hashtag Granola.