For four years, the Cornerstone Cheerleaders have taken time out of their busy schedules to love on and serve kids with special needs and their siblings at the Annual Christmas Respite at Oakland Heights Baptist Church in Cartersville. The respite allows parents to have a much needed break while participants take part in fun activities with a personal “buddy”.
Each year, Cornerstone Cheerleaders paint faces and fingernails, help with crafts, and love on these amazing kids. This year, as with every year, proved to be an impactful day for each of the cheerleaders. These student-athletes joined 150 other volunteers to serve over 90 kids with special needs and their siblings at the respite.
Coach Holly Guice shared why the squads spend the day serving others, “We can all get so internally focused, as adults and teens, and forget to sacrifice our time and energy to share the love of Jesus with those around us. Serving at the respite gives my girls the opportunity to focus on others and be stretched in ways they may never have been before.”
Student-Athletes Reflect On the Day:
“I realized how privileged we are to have amazing health and the ability to do things we take for granted. We complain about the smallest things. It amazes me how happy and polite they were.”
Alanna Fuson, 7th grade
“I met a girl named Sarah that really stood out to me. She was so sweet and every time she would see me she would call my name and say ‘hello’. She seemed like such a happy girl and I’m so glad I met her and could make her happy by painting a snowflake on her arm! It made me realize how such a small thing can really impact someone, and it makes me want to keep serving.”
Bella Gabrovic, 8th grade
“By doing this service project, I was more aware of what other kids are going through. I did not realize how much this meant to all of the people there. I really enjoyed getting to talk to the children while I was painting their faces. They were all so happy and content with what they had. I messed up one boy’s Falcon and Georgia Bulldawg symbols, but he was still so happy and thankful. This meant a lot to me to be able to help brighten these kids’ day!”
Anna Falkins, 7th grade
“My favorite part of serving today was probably all the people! They were so kind and adorable, especially the little kids.”
Riley Galat, 9th grader
“These kids have all been through so much and yet they are all so positive and jolly. Being able to help them and make their day made mine.”
Lilli Pascoe, 8th grade
“This is my fourth year participating in the respite. Each year my heart grows fonder for these children. It’s amazing to see how a simple act, such as painting a little girl’s fingernails, can put a smile on her face, making me realize how grateful the children are. These kids have taught me that all it takes is a smile and kindness to brighten someone’s day. Most of the children at the respite don’t live an easy life, so taking one day to bring them joy is all worth it.”
Kathryn Lashley, 12th grader
“I have served at the Christmas Respite four years with the cheerleaders and three with my family. Each year I take away something different. This year I realized how much I take for granted and forget to enjoy the little things in life. The children participating look forward to this day all year long. They cannot wait to get their face painted, decorate a cookie, and see Santa."
"Just one act of kindness fills them with so much joy. They are so excited about things that most of us just brush to the side. The joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces reminds me of what Christmas is truly about...spreading love and joy to this world as Jesus did.”
Laura Grace Guice, 12th grader