She has a giving smile.
One that stands out throughout the day, makes you feel appreciated if you happen to be graced by it. It’s the smile a parent gives to a child. It’s the smile a significant other would share. It’s the kind of smile that shows just how large of a heart somebody has and that they’ve welcomed you into it.
It’s the smile that Katelyn Scott has, with a slight laugh, as she talks about her path to being nominated for the BNY Mellon Hockey Humanitarian Award.
For many, charitable activities are pretty devoid of pleasure and in some way benefits them – throw your change in the box on the McDonald’s counter so you don’t have to carry it around. There are the ones who happen to take great joy in the fact they’re reaching somebody on a personal level, though. There’s the people who genuinely care about the world around them more than they do themselves.
Those people are crazily involved in what seems like too many things, spreading themselves so thin it’s amazing they hold it together. Katelyn Scott is the type of person who has no time for charity, yet spends much of her time on it.
An engineering student and a forward on the women’s hockey team at Robert Morris, she occasionally has an all-nighter in the library to maintain her perfect grades.
Through all of that, she managed to do something most would never have the courage to take on. Scott created her own foundation – Toys for Joy – and ran a campaign to raise money and toys to deliver to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. Together with her coaches and the athletic department, she created an event where in place of paying for a ticket somebody could bring in a toy and it acts the same.
It ran to great success, collecting over 120 toys.
“At first we delivered them maybe a month ago, and we didn’t think we would be able to see any of the kids,” said Scott. “Then they invited some of us back to go and actually see the kids. It’s pretty overwhelming when you see little kids all hooked up to tubes and you know they’re not doing well. It’s overwhelming, it’s sad to see them. But when you go in there, and you can put even a little smile on their face, give them a little glimmer of hope, it’s all worth it.”
They played bingo and handed out prizes, even seeing the familiar face of a little girl who had a dance party with them in the locker room on a weekend she did the pre-game puck drop for her little sister with leukemia. Fun was had, as it was hoped to be. By the end, everybody had a prize.
Her lifestyle of giving didn’t exactly come naturally, as it is with most people. It all started with the idea that you could give and a grandmother who set the perfect example growing up. Her grandmother is the type of woman you only find in the cartoons. With the pie sitting on the windowsill and attracting the neighborhood kids, she invites them in. She cooks for everyone in the neighborhood, just giving what she can.
Scott explains, at Christmas time, she goes to her grandmother’s house enlisted to bake cookies to pass around to everybody.
“She always has company over, she’s always cooking for everyone,” said Scott. “Around Christmas time, we all go over and bake tons of cookies and she gives them out to neighborhood people and friends, family. So we kind of saw that growing up. Like, when you have more than you need, you share it. You have one hand to help yourself, and one hand to help others.”
From then on, Scott was hooked. In high school, she helped with Gleaner’s Food Bank. During her summers at Robert Morris, she volunteered with Forgotten Harvest Farms. Through her internship this summer, she aided in the restoration of Brennan Pools in Detroit. She just couldn’t give enough. The reward was worth it.
When it comes to the big driving factor in her life, she was able to talk about many different points. Delivering food from the Food Bank or seeing the Pools come to life with the joyous squeals of playing children are great rewards, after all. She mentions a point in middle school, just before her freshman year of high school, when she went on a mission trip to St. Louis with her friends thinking it could be a fun time – kind of a vacation.
“While we were there, we’d go around to like individuals houses that were members of the church and anything they needed done in the yard or the house, we would help fix it for them,” Scott said with an excited smile. “It was weird, because one time we were there and one of my least favorite chores to do is weed the yard. We get to this one house and they ask, can you help weeding? It was so weird because I was like ‘oh yeah.’ It was enjoyable because I was doing it for someone else, like it’s something bigger than myself kind of. So I didn’t mind. Like this is helping you out. It’s a different kind of mentality. It’s not really fun work, but it’s like what you make of it. You’re around people, and you’re all there to help and working together. So putting in the effort, and you know you’re doing it for a good cause and that makes it easier and more enjoyable, I guess.”
The joy doesn’t just come from true labor. The joy of giving comes from the stories you get from it, explains Scott. She talks about the children who don’t get enough attention at home, how shy they start and how happy they are to have somebody to talk to. She talks about the kids who don’t have food at home, and helping the church provide them with a meal, whether they’re churchgoers or not. The point of helping out is to help everyone.
“That’s kind of why, for me, I don’t spend a ton of time for one organization, one charity. I spread it across a ton of different charities, because I want to help as many people as possible. So I can’t put a ton of effort into one, but I try to spread it out. I don’t have — obviously with hockey and school — that much time during the year, so a lot of it’s in the summer or just random times when our team is able to do an event together. So I try and spread it out, and it is hard to see people struggling. But that’s why I do it, to try and give a little bit of help where I can.”
Nominated for an award, Scott isn’t one to boast. In fact, she shied away from talking about it at all. It wasn’t a fear of offending somebody, it was just that this isn’t about her or getting an award. This is about something more.
She has her Toys for Joy, and the bingo games. She volunteers to sort through donations to the food bank, or leave the office for a day at work to do some landscaping at the pool. It’s not about the self. It’s never about the self for somebody with that giving smile, that caring heart.
It’s about the people she meets, the lives she touches. It’s about the smile she receives when she gives hers.