By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes
Giving your time, energy and effort into volunteering can make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others, especially in a community like Keizer.
Autumn Siegel learned that value at a very young age.
In December, the 8-year old second grader from Weddle Elementary was presented the first ever Keizer Little League Concessions Volunteer of the Year award for her outstanding work in the concession stand during the 2018 baseball/softball season at KLL Park.
The award was to presented to Siegel by Clint Holland, who has been in charge of operating the concession stand for the last two years.
“Usually, we don’t let kids under the age of 14 work in the concession stand, but we made an exception for her because she was fabulous,” Holland said. “People can’t believe how good she is.”
With Siegel’s father, Ryan, being the softball director for KLL and her older sister, Violet, playing softball for KLL, Siegel spent quite a bit of time at the little league facility.
One afternoon, Siegel walked by the concession stand and offered her assistance.
After spending the rest of the day working in the stand, Siegel realized that it was something that she really enjoyed.
“I just like getting orders and using the cash register on the iPad,” Siegel said. “Sometimes I got to do other jobs, like make pretzels … It was fun.”
It wasn’t long before Siegel was spending long hours volunteering at the stand multiple times per week. Her willingness to help was not only greatly appreciated, it was much needed.
“We had kind of a hard time getting volunteers, but it seemed like whenever I was in trouble up there, Autumn was there to come to the rescue,” Holland said. “There were times where it was just her and me running the whole stand.”
Siegel’s mother, Shelly, also added: “She’s like a concession stand mascot. Everyone knows who Autumn is.”
Siegel even got to a point over the summer where she could work at the concession stand all by herself.
Some people might be skeptical of an eight-year old running the cash register without the supervision of an adult. But Siegel always proved herself to be trustworthy and even showed other people how to use the system.
“Everything always balanced out, even when she was running it by herself,” Holland said. “She didn’t make mistakes.”
During a particular Saturday in July is when Siegel shined the brightest according to Holland.
While KLL was hosting an all-day tournament, Holland was swamped at the concession stand. Fortunately, Siegel came to the rescue.
Over the course of 11 to 12 hours, Siegel’s efficiency and effectiveness behind the counter caught the eyes of all that went to the KLL concession stand that day, which allowed her to make $51 in tips.
“The public saw how hard she was working,” Holland said. “I can’t say enough about how helpful she was that day. It made me want to do something for her to show my appreciation.”
That is when Holland got the idea to make an award for Siegel to display his gratitude.
“I brought the idea up to someone on the (KLL) committee and they loved it,” Holland said.
Holland got a gold plaque made and presented it to Siegel in front of her teacher and classmates right before the holiday break.
“I was really shy because I don’t really like when all the eyes are on me,” Siegel said. “I was a little nervous, but I was excited at the same time.”
“I actually cried a little bit when I gave to her,” Holland added. “She was so shocked.”
Siegel will be playing softball for KLL this spring, so she might not be in the concession stand as much as she was last year. But Siegel still plans to help out whenever she can.
“I just like helping people,” Siegel said.