If you weren’t there to witness it for yourself, words cannot do justice to the 3rd Annual live civilly March Madness Tournament of Giving.  With more than 160 players ranging in age from 8 to 58 years old, the Church Street Recreation Center was alive with basketball!  This tournament, now in it’s third year, is the primary fundraising source for live civilly’s nutritional outreach programs to benefit Moorestown’s underserved youth.  The 2017 Tournament of Giving, did just that – it GAVE…  BIG TIME!

The Tournament of Giving began three years ago as an attempt to engage Moorestown’s youth in a fun, but competitive activity to raise money for a new program live civilly had started to support families struggling with food insecurity.  The live civilly Summer Lunch Program was initiated in partnership with the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Friends Enrichment Program and MooreKids in 2013.  Students who received scholarships to participate in the Parks & Recreation Summer Programs often arrived without lunches or snacks.  Having opened a food pantry two years prior, the Founders and Board of live civilly understood very well that “hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.”  Hence, the Summer Lunch Program began.

Over the last three summers more than 3000 healthy lunches have been provided to campers through the Summer Lunch Program.  Each summer, through the help of donors, volunteers and Department of Parks & Recreation staff, lunches are discretely delivered and distributed to the scholarship recipients daily.  Many hands have jumped in to make sure our youngest citizens don’t struggle with daily hunger.  This year the tournament was held in honor of “Mike” Bartello, who passed away in 2015.  live civilly first came to know Mike as we began our development of the ExCELS Snack Program which has provided nearly 18,000 healthy snacks to Moorestown’s youth through the Recreation Open Gym program.  Mike’s commitment to Moorestown and to local children in need was evident immediately.  He was a strong supporter of live civilly efforts, he cared deeply for children and he LOVED basketball.

Last Saturday, the Recreation Center was filled with music, laughter, a little bit of ‘tude, and a whole lot of heart.  Teams came out sporting homemade shirts, matching uniforms, their favorite jersey’s and brought their A-game to see who would leave with bragging rights.  From the Big Talkers to the Little Sisters, the Hoop Heads to the Destroyers, Orange Crush to the Lebron-tourage, the games were on fire!  This year, bracket after bracket battled until the final buzzer and there were no less than 8 sudden death games during the day…because we all know, there are no ties in basketball!

Thank you to the amazing sponsors of this annual event:  The Moorestown Department of Parks & Recreation, Holman Automotive, The Wawa Foundation, Wegmans of Mt. Laurel and Board 34.  The support of these organizations allowed live civilly to focus on making the tournament a day to remember.  And this day certainly could not have happened without the dedication and devotion of all of the volunteers involved.

A huge thank you to Debbie Flick who developed the brackets, managed the play and made sure a good time was had by all!  Thank you to Julian Austin and the members of Board 34 for providing outstanding officiating for nine hours of play!  Thank you to Jeff Barton for bringing his x-games voice and announcing – any player who had their name or team announced thought for sure they had made it to “the show!”  Thank you to Colleen Maguire the Queen of Stats and Scores!  Thank you to Rich Corbin for his logistics and technical support!  Thank you to Adrienne Barr, Ricky Lovelace, Joe Buss, Kelly and Lorenzo Eagles, and the Founders Anna, Grace and Abby for pitching in where-ever and whenever necessary.

And thank you to every player, every parent and every spectator who came to watch this fun-filled day of March Madness basketball.  Thanks to your support, live civilly is pleased to announce that this summer, the live civilly Summer Lunch Program will be made available again to Moorestown Youth for whom food insecurity during the summer months is a real and significant struggle.  For more information about the Summer Lunch Program, the live civilly/Moorestown Ministerium Food Pantry, the Community Supported Gardens or any other programs please email us at contact@livecivilly.org.  Please sign up for our blog to learn about upcoming programs, service opportunities for youth and families and new and exciting opportunities through live civilly.  Thank you to the live civilly Nation for being a nation of “people helping people helping people helping people!”