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Jackets Soccer Kicking Off New Season With a Toy Drive

                Members of the Jackets soccer team are hoping for lots of fan support—for their Christmas toy drive—as they open the 2020-21 season at home this week.

                The JV will scrimmage the Keene Chargers Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The varsity will face Godley in a practice game on Friday, also at 5:30, with both taking place on the sub-varsity turf field at Cleburne High School. Admission is free and team members will have toy collection boxes in place they are counting on fans to fill.

                Head Coach Jose Salazar has included community involvement in his game plan for the Jackets in his first season at Cleburne High School. Salazar competed for the Jackets in his soccer playing days at CHS, graduating in 2014.

                “I want our boys’ soccer team to make an impact on the field and off,” Salazar said. “Things have been in such turmoil due to Covid and that has impacted many of the families in our community. Money is extremely tight in a lot of households, and we want to be sure kids have toys under the tree on Christmas morning.”

                “Many of our players went to elementary school at Irving and Santa Fe,” Salazar said. “They feel hosting this toy drive is one way to give back to their schools.”

                Friday’s afterschool practice found team members equipped with scissors, paper and tape as they worked together to decorate the collection boxes now in place at the high school, CISD Central Offices and other locations. The toy drive will run through December 14.

                Senior Midfielder Jose Sanchez describes the toy drive as “awesome.” The 17-year-old is among those on the team to claim Santa Fe as his elementary school.

                “As kids, we didn’t have a lot of toys at Christmas,” he said. “My parents had a lot of financial burdens and couldn’t afford much for things like that. If something like this had been in place for us, it would have made a difference.”

                Sanchez and teammate Andy Azpeitia, who attended Irving Elementary, think super hero action figures, Hot Wheels and soccer balls would be great selections for those wishing to join their toy drive team.

                “Books are always a good thing, too, and maybe Barbies,” Azpeitia said. “Covid has been tough on families—I know how hard it is. Some people have lost their jobs. Bills have to be more important than toys, and this will help with that, and take the worry off some parents.”

                “I’m happy we’re doing this,” he said. “Our team has good hearts. This is a good experience for us and I think is strengthening the bond between us, as we help kids and families.”

                Coach Salazar, and his Jackets, believe the toy drive is a great way to kick-off the soccer season.

                “We would like to end the night with our collection boxes filled with toys—coloring books, colors, toy cars—just things kids can enjoy. They can be wrapped or unwrapped,” Salazar said. “I have already felt so much support from the community as the new soccer coach and I believe we’ll get a lot of that same support for this project. I want to say ‘thanks’ in advance to everyone who is going to help us make Christmas a happy one for kids.”