As the holiday season of thanks and giving approaches, we can’t help but think about all the wonderful volunteer opportunities and ways to give to others, whether it’s family or strangers. Getting involved in the community is a good thing for cheer squads to do year-round, but particularly during the holiday season when there are even more countless ways to help. Why should a cheer squad get involved in the community? For one, cheerleaders are a source of spirit and support. They should have a presence at school and within the community. The best way to have a positive and influential presence is to lend a hand! Volunteer at a non-profit organization on a Saturday, donate to a community group that is struggling to stay open, send baked goods to the military – whatever you choose to do, make sure it is something you truly care about. It’ll show in your actions! Being part of a group, like a cheerleading squad, also gives you the opportunity to stand up for causes. As opposed to just an individual action, a group action can get a lot more attention. Did a tragic event happen at school? Help lead a support circle or candle vigil. Was a school building vandalized? Offer to help clean and remove it! Remember, don’t do anything without running it by an official. If you’re doing something for or at the school, ask school administrators for permission first. While surprise donations are nice, spur-of-the-moment events could cause problems. While we all know that giving back to the community helps the community, many don’t realize that it can also help your squad! First of all, your good-natured work helps busts any cheer myths that say cheerleaders aren’t well liked or positive role models. By helping out, you can prove those stereotypes wrong with your actions. By giving back to the community, you also earn a positive reputation and a “face” in the community. Having a presence means more people are likely to support you in return, whether it’s cheering you on at games and competitions or helping you with your fundraising. If you really have a presence in your community, the community may help you without you even having to ask! Take for example the Muskegon High School cheer squad. After enduring an emotional fight to save their sport from the budget ax and just days before their first game of the season, equipment and cheer shoes were stolen from the coach’s car – a loss of $2,000 for the team of 30 cheerleaders. Their anger and heartache was replaced with humble amazement when the community came to their aid. Individuals, organizations and companies responded with donations totaling over $3,000, which more than made up for the loss. Is your squad involved in the community?