By Lyndsey Peace, Editor-in-Chief
Maggie Hendrix, a freshman English education major, is the president and founder of a nonprofit organization called Lizzy’s Angels. Hendrix created this organization about three years ago to honor the memory of Lizzy Hoppe-Ritchie, who was one of Hendrix’s softball teammates from her hometown of Montgomery.
Lizzy’s Angels is about spreading joy and a love of softball to children around the world by gifting sports equipment to those who otherwise would not have access or funds to play the game. “I take old sports equipment, I refurbish it and then I give it to underprivileged kids,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix first became inspired to start a nonprofit after attending a summer program as a part of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation. The program moved her to look for ways to help the community in Montgomery.
“I started thinking about a lot of the issues in my hometown and as a 15 year old, there wasn’t much I could do about some of the bigger [issues] so then I turned to my passions and realized I’ve had so many opportunities in softball and a lot of people don’t,” Hendrix said.
After reflecting on her passions, she wanted to center her nonprofit around the game she loves — softball — while also bringing in her faith. Hendrix is passionate about helping others and created the organization with service in mind. “I’ve been so blessed, and I recognize that others might not have the same opportunities I have, and I would never want that to be the determining factor that keeps them from doing what they love,” Hendrix said.
After coming up with the idea behind the organization, Hendrix decided to name the organization after Lizzy to honor her memory and remind others of Lizzy’s uplifting spirit.
“Still to this day Lizzy was the most joyous person that I’ve ever met. I didn’t want people to forget that. It also made me realize how much joy I should be finding in the game of softball because a lot of times people take that for granted, but she was always so happy. No matter if it was practice or workout or a game, she always had the biggest smile and I wanted to spread her story and also help her family and remind people of the joy sports should bring you,” Hendrix said.
The organization helps tangibly by donating equipment, but the purpose behind Lizzy’s Angels is about more than just funding. “Overall [Lizzy’s Angels] is about honoring Lizzy and continuing to tell her story but also providing opportunities for other people,” Hendrix said.
When Hendrix founded Lizzy’s Angels, she had big dreams but a limited amount of resources. “I started small. In the beginning it was just me doing everything, cleaning equipment in my garage, but the support slowly grew in my town,” Hendrix said.
In the beginning days, Hendrix received support mostly from her family and the softball program in Montgomery. People gradually started to take notice and while Hendrix finished high school, she focused her attention on donating to local organizations surrounding Montgomery.
However, this past summer Lizzy’s Angels donated on a larger scale when Hendrix sent sports equipment to children in Nigeria. Prior to receiving the equipment, the children were playing with bats made out of sticks and gloves made out of cardboard.
Hendrix hopes to continue reaching children internationally but sending equipment to a different country is substantially more expensive.
In the future, Hendrix has even bigger plans for Lizzy’s Angels and hopes to expand the organization beyond donating sports equipment. “Throughout college I really want to branch out and do more, maybe target the homeless and do more with the ministry aspect [of Lizzy’s Angels],” Hendrix said.
Since Hendrix joined the softball team at HSU this past fall, Chanin Naudin, the head softball coach, has been a big help to Hendrix and wants HSU to become more involved in supporting the organization.
In fact, this involvement is already in the works. In the spring semester, Lizzy’s Angels is going to sponsor the Special Olympics softball tournament at HSU. Then in the summer the HSU softball team is travelling to Honduras, and Hendrix plans to bring suitcases full of equipment to donate to the children there.
Hendrix has been searching for other ways to help the community in Abilene but does not know the area as well. “The biggest issue I’ve had so far here is I just don’t know exactly what areas are in need and who would need [equipment],” Hendrix said.
Hendrix mainly needs contacts to help her figure out where schools or churches in Abilene are in need of equipment. In addition, if anyone has old sports equipment, she is always willing to take it so she can refurbish it for others. She would also love help cleaning the equipment, as this can take up a lot of time.
If you are interested in helping support Lizzy’s Angels, whether by donating funds or volunteering your time, please follow the official Facebook page “Lizzy’s Angels”. You can also contact Hendrix by phone at (936)-828-0697.