People rarely consider basketball to be synonymous with service projects, but that was the case Thursday at the XSI Factory near Thanksgiving Point.
In the middle of Travis Hansen’s basketball camp Thursday morning, the Little Heroes Foundation put together “Welcome Kits” for children in the Primary Children’s Medical Center. The Little Heroes Foundation, founded by former BYU basketball player Travis Hansen and his wife LaRee, is a Provo-based organization dedicated to offering service wherever needed.
“The goal of the Little Heroes Foundation is to give grants to organizations that are in need,” said Katie Iroz, a Little Heroes Foundation representative. “We contacted Primary Children’s [Medical Center], they had a board meeting and decided that this is something that would be helpful to them.”
Nature Sunshine Products, the largest sponsor of the Little Heroes Foundation, funded the items in the welcome kits. Items for the 3-11 year-old age group include puzzles, stuffed animals, card games, crayons and coloring books. Items in the 12 and older age group are art supplies, mind-bending puzzles, Sudoku books and other activities better suited to their age. The children who put the kits together were able to write their names on the bags, making them somewhat identifiable to the patients who will receive the welcome kits.
Kristine Alvarez, a Nature Sunshine Products representative from Salem, said she enjoyed participating in the service project, as well as having her son involved in the basketball camp.
“These types of camps and service projects are good to keep kids off of video games,” Alvarez said. “I like to involve my family in service projects. I enjoy the opportunity for service, and it can be hard to find opportunities. You really need to go out of your way to look for them.”
After a morning of basketball drills and games, Marie Hendrickson, an employee of the Primary Children’s Medical Center, spoke to the children concerning service. She told a compelling story of a boy named Parker. Parker was a hospital patient who needed a bone marrow transplant. Discovering he was a match to be a donor, Parker’s younger brother Dillon chose to be a hero by donating bone marrow. Any of us, Hendrickson said, can be a hero by offering service to those in need.
Hendrickson also talked about the potential effect the welcome kits would have on the hospitalized children.
“The items that the patients receive will help them so much,” Hendrickson said. “They’re used to their friends, their toys and their blanket at home. All of a sudden they’re in a strange place with a lot going on. When they see the bag, they’ll quit thinking about being nervous and start coloring or drawing.”
The young children were more than willing to pitch in and help construct the kits. Tyler Jensen, an 8-year-old American Fork resident who participated in the basketball camp, said he was happy to be of service.
“[It] feels good to help out other kids so they can have a better time in the hospital,” Jensen said.
For the campers who participated in the service project, being a little hero has never felt so good.