Quaker Valley junior’s coat drive, other efforts help new arrivals to Western Pa.

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Sunday, October 29, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Quaker Valley junior Molly MacDonald combines her athletic skills with a strong sense of altruism.

MacDonald is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter and third-year starter on the section-winning QV girls volleyball team.

She started a charity last winter called Brazos de Bienvenida, which when translated means “Welcoming Arms.” She collected clothing, household items and food for underserved Hispanic and Brazilian residents who relocate to Pittsburgh.

“We work with the Sisters of St. Joseph’s out of Baden, Casa San Jose and the Center for Hope,” MacDonald said. “Initially, I was looking for opportunities to get service hours for the National Honor Society. Then it morphed into a charity.”

MacDonald ended up collecting 108 coats for Center for Hope, located in Ambridge. Her QV teammates helped wash, organize and put the coats on hangers.

“We collected about 108 coats, along with having a lot of people dropping off bags on top of bags filled with clothing items,” MacDonald said. ”Sue Otto, director of the Center for Hope, emailed me to say how excited the adults, as well as their children, were to receive winter coats. She said some didn’t understand how cold it gets in Pittsburgh. They grew up in warm weather.

“And some of the people wrote thank you’s to Brazos de Bienvenidos on a poster for us. I feel fortunate to be able to contribute to their transition to Pittsburgh. We are (currently) collecting donations to pay for dinner for 75-80 people at the Center for Hope.”

The dinner is scheduled to take place Nov. 30. MacDonald and friends will serve dinner and drinks and pass out desserts.

“A caterer who works with the Center for Hope will make the food using our donations,” said MacDonald, whose selflessness doesn’t stop there.

“We will be collecting food for the food pantry in November,” she said, “and money to purchase little Christmas trees for the Kids’ Food Pantry Christmas party in December.

“We will give the trees to 125 children during the Christmas party for the people who use the Center for Hope’s food pantry.”

Anyone who would like to contribute can write a check to Center for Hope or donate cash to MacDonald. Tax deduction slips will be provided.

Donations can be mailed or placed in the locked mailbox at Advanced Chiropractic of Sewickley, 626 Beaver Street, Sewickley, PA 15143.

MacDonald is a talented and versatile student-athlete at QV. She competed in club lacrosse until her freshman year of high school, formerly played tennis, basketball and soccer and was a figure skater.

MacDonald participates in student council, Global Scholars and the Cultural Alliance, has a 4.42 GPA and was slated to be inducted into National Honor Society.

“I have started looking at possible colleges to attend,” MacDonald said, “and the goal is to continue my volleyball career. When I’m not in the high school gym and playing games or tournaments with my Quaker Valley team, I’m taking private lessons with Annica (Kagle) and training with some of my club teammates.”

Kagle has committed to play college volleyball at Catawba, located in Salisbury, N.C. and a member of the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference.

“I am super excited for her,” MacDonald said. “She works hard. Annica is a grade ahead of me, so I have been watching her progress since middle school.

“I’m trying to find my college spot, too. It requires a lot of emails, phone calls and watching college teams play.”

MacDonald participated in the offseason with QV teammate Nora Hammond in the inaugural Queens of the ‘Burgh volleyball tournament at the All American Field House in Monroeville.

MacDonald and Kagle also were teammates in the U18 division of the Pittsburgh Grass Volleyball tournament this summer.

QV won a section championship in girls volleyball for the first time in school history. The Quakers finished 14-0 in Section 4-2A and landed the third seed for the WPIAL playoffs with a 14-2 overall record.

Kagle is a senior right-side hitter; Hammond is a junior outside hitter. They are joined in the starting rotation by MacDonald, seniors Katelyn Clark (MH), and Lucy Auth (DS), juniors Vanessa Pickett (setter) and Carmen Forsythe (DS) and sophomore Mia Gartley (MH).

“We have a strong starting lineup,” Hammond said. “We have a lot of talent on the team and have really come together to play well. We are looking forward to a successful postseason. I think we will be a competitive team in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.

“My season has been a lot of fun because I enjoy everyone on the team and have had opportunities to improve my skills.”

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