For three hours, the football players raked, mowed, clipped, bagged and trimmed — on a Sunday afternoon when they could have been hanging out with friends.
“I was more proud of them for that than any of the games or big wins over the years,” their coach, Chris Yates, said.
The young people pitched in to help tidy the 1½-acre lawn at the home of Edwina Dossey on Conron Street. Her husband, Marvin, died in October at age 89.
Yates, a commander with the Danville Police Department, met Marvin several years ago. Their friendship started about 10 years ago when Yates, who works third shift, would stop by Leon’s restaurant at 5 a.m. for his dinner.
Marvin and a group of friends were always there, having breakfast, and they would invite Yates to join them. They called themselves the Knights of the Round Table, Yates said, joking, “We thought we could solve the world’s problems in 45 minutes.”
The men in the group had known each other 40-50 years, but they accepted the younger man into their fold, and would call if he didn’t show up. It was a tight group.
“If any of us needed help, somebody would chime in with knowledge on how to do something,” Yates said.
When Marvin began having health problems, Yates continued to stay in touch with the Dosseys. When Marvin died, Yates vowed to help out Edwina — something Marvin would have done for Yates if the roles had been reversed, he said.
Yates called several of the players with the Danville Saints football team, thinking he might get three or four volunteers to help him rake leaves, mow and trim bushes at the Dossey home. He was surprised when about 10 boys showed up, as well as a few other adults.
“It’s a special group of kids,” he said. Most of the young workers are in seventh and eighth grades.
As a coach, Yates tries to instill values in the young people, and to develop them into well-rounded people, as well as good football players. To be successful in life, he tells them, the same work ethic applies as it does in sports.
Also, he’s pleased with the way the parents participate in their children’s activities.
Edwina Dossey was happy with the young people, too, saying, “I was at a loss for words. I think it’s just wonderful that they would think enough of me to do this. They did a nice job.”
She added, “It was nice of them to come on a holiday.”
The cleanup just happened to fall on Veterans Day, which was a fitting tribute to Marvin, who received two Purple Hearts and other awards in World War II.
People might know the Dosseys for their Christmas lights decorations in the past. Some of those lights are being used this year at the Festival of Trees.
“My husband would have been so thrilled that they were restored and people are enjoying them again,” Edwina said.
The students who helped out were: Evan Yates, Brody Yates, Brandon Yates, Colin Schuman, Luke Steiner, Pedro Linares, Keegan West, Reed Steiner and Michael Feeney. Also helping were parent Cari West and little Kailynn West.