TARPON SPRINGS – Several members of the Tarpon Springs High School swim team delivered two small Christmas trees and dozens of used books to the local Head Start preschool on Friday, Dec. 7.
The selfless act of generosity stemmed from Coach Craig Dolan’s commitment to having his team give back to the community, according to team mom Penny Lambranos.
“The kids do a community service project every year — Coach Craig is very big on giving back,” Lambranos said as the kids prepared to deliver the items. “Last year, the kids gave a tree to Head Start and this year they wanted to do something more, so they decided to give two and some books, as well.”
Lambranos said the swimmers collected more than 100 books, some donated by Tarpon Springs Elementary, others collected at the team’s booth during special events. They also decorated one tree with an icy, aquatic theme while including a more traditional tree.
According to the team’s senior captain, Ashton Boatman, the look in the eyes of the kids last year when they delivered the single Christmas tree was enough to spark them to do more this year.
“Last year when we brought the tree, they cried,” Boatman said. “Seeing that just encouraged me to give back even more this year—so we brought two trees, plus cookies and books.”
When asked what made her want to do more, for the underprivileged kids who attend the school, Boatman said “we feel good when we get stuff like this, and we want these kids who don’t have much to feel the same way.”
After posing in front of a Palm Harbor Fire Rescue engine, the swimmers handed the trees, books and baked goods to the Head Start kids, who couldn’t wait to see what the team brought. Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue had to bow out of the event because of scheduling conflicts.
Noting the preschoolers are from low-income families, Lambranos said: “We’re fortunate to have the group that we have who values giving back. And we can thank Coach Craig for that.”
Dolan, who also serves as the city’s recreation supervisor, credited his squad for always being willing to help.
“The swim team really does a lot in the community, and the Head Start tree donation is just one example,” Dolan said while working the Snow Place Like Tarpon event. “Especially since I work for the city, I encourage them to give back, and they don’t hesitate. They’re always willing to do whatever we ask for the community. It’s one of the things I love about coaching this team and working for this city.”