Paulina Perkovich helped a group of second-graders launch a mini-football through a mini-goalpost Monday afternoon at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary School in Aberdeen.
The 20-year-old junior at Iona College in New York helped Charlie Hufty, Adley Varella, Layla Smallwood and Annalise Elam assemble the goalpost and launcher using popsicle sticks, paper straws and tape — a lot of tape.
But it worked, and each student took a turn launching the ball through the uprights, to the delight and cheers of the others.
Perkovich and her family — mother, brother and aunt — were among the 17 or so people who volunteered Monday alongside former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Qadry Ismail at Hall’s Cross Roads for the Ravens Huddle for 100 community day of service.
It’s part of a larger effort nationwide through the United Way to dedicate 100 minutes of service — in recognition of the NFL’s 100th season — with the goal of reaching 100 million volunteer minutes among all NFL fans.
In Maryland on Monday, volunteers were expected to give about 3.3 million minutes of service, according to Amy Novak, development director in Harford County for the United Way.
“In Maryland alone we’re putting a huge dent in service hours," Novak said.
Besides reading “Don’t Throw It to Mo!" by Mo Jackson and working on the STEM projects at Hall’s Cross Roads, about 25 other volunteers helped power washing, mulch, weed and paint at Friends Park in Forest Hill later in the day as part of the effort.
At Hall’s Cross Roads, Ismail got the 60 or so second-grade students pumped up for a football-themed reading.
“Who’s your favorite football team?” he asked. Most said the Ravens, but one said the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After listening to the book, the students broke into small groups, where volunteers helped them create their goalpost and launching device. They talked about football and asked questions along the way.
As the students made their goalposts, they were helping Justin Tucker, “the greatest kicker in Ravens history,” practice his kicks.
“You’re helping him kick the ball through the uprights,” Ismail said.
Ismail has lived in Harford County for 12 years, so volunteering Monday was an easy decision.
“It’s awesome to get together and do things for the next generation,” he said. “The level of commitment to rooting on the team and the team giving back to the community, it’s a cool symbiotic relationship between the team and the county.”
Dan Condon, director of corporate sales for the Ravens, urged all volunteers who took pictures to post them on social media with the hashtag #ravenshuddlefor100.
Born and raised in Harford County, Condon is in his sixth season with the Ravens.
“I’m very excited to give back for the Ravens with Huddle for 100,” Condon said.
Perkovich and her family had a more somber reason for volunteering Monday
“It’s the first anniversary of my dad’s death,” Perkovich said.