A good time for doing goodPosted: November 10, 2011
We’re heading into the holiday stretch. A little prematurely, I think, so I’m siding with Nordstrom’s on this one holiday at a time thing. Philosophically, of course; it’s not like I’m shopping there (see previous posts about kids and sports sucking up all my money).
Fighting my inner Scrooge, I try to recognize that the holiday season, for whatever reason you personally believe or don’t believe in it, is an opportunity to do some good, wrapped up in a great big, over-commercialized package. And I’m full on for doing good.
In some parts of the world, probably not as far away as you imagine, there are kids playing soccer on an abandoned lot in their bare feet with a ball made of bunched up rags. Only in America, says a friend of ours, can you turn soccer into a $5000 a year endeavor. The opportunity to play youth sports is one afforded to those with money, time, health and support. And for many, many reasons, there are kids that don’t have that opportunity. So let’s give them a hand this season and help them out. It’s a great team-building activity and a way for our young athletes learn empathy, see compassion and find out what courage really is.
The Salvation Army kettle drive is well known to many of us and it’s a great team activity. Even the little guys can stand in front of a kettle and ring a bell. Your local Salvation Army organization really needs volunteers so schedule a block of time and take turns with parents and teammates to man the kettle. It’s a fun team-building event, especially when hot cocoa is involved. And you can sing Ring, ring, ring, ring my bell while you’re doing it.
Toys for Tots, a foundation sponsored by the Marines, collects new, unwrapped toys and gives them out to kids in need at the holidays. Players identify closely with this one because everyone wants a toy, and every toy wants to be wanted. At the risk of blasphemy, consider foregoing gifts for players at the team holiday party and instead asking them to bring a toy to donate. The players can help load them up in a van and take them over to the collection site; the Marine reservists will take care of the rest.
It’s an eye-opener for kids to learn that people right in their neighborhood need help with essentials like food, utility bills and clothing. In the past, our team has adopted a couple families from our community services list (it’s good to get a family with kids around the same ages as your players), then accepted wish list item donations or cash to buy items. The kids helped with the shopping and did the wrapping as part of a team activity. There were some ribbons that didn’t look all that pretty but I’m sure the recipients didn’t mind.
Food or personal items drive
Organizing a food drive with your players is a great way to help the local community. It’s helpful to work with a particular food pantry or shelter so you can collect items that they actually need. We have had drives to collect personal items like toothbrushes, combs, Kleenex and such for shelters, as well as food staples.
Kids helping kids
Consider a bottle drive, skate-athon, home run derby or other activity to benefit a children’s hospital, the Ronald MacDonald house, or other foundation that helps kids. Let the players research some organizations and pick where they want the money to go. An alternative is to donate time, equipment or money to a team that serves an underprivileged area or supports disabled sports. For instance, hold an equipment drive for another soccer team, or help them do some field work, followed by a friendly scrimmage. Work with a team or league that supports disabled baseball, hockey, basketball or other sports.
There are many, many organizations that could use a helping hand. Below are some to consider. Or call your local social services agency to find a place near you. I do recommend checking out organizations before donating. Sadly, some are scams, so use Guidestar or ask a lot of question, get copies of annual reports, paperwork or certificates to make sure they are bonafide.
Sports Gift Sports Gift is focused on providing sports to impoverished and disadvantaged children throughout the world and promoting sports related community service.
The Hockey Foundation The Hockey Foundation is a non-profit that uses ice hockey as means to improve the way of life in under-privileged communities.
Score 4 Kids Score4Kids, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making organized sports accessible and affordable to any child in the Metro Detroit
Right to Play International To improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.
Classroom Champions Olympians and Paralympians are paired with classrooms and communities to inspire, motivate and educate students in high-need schools to recognize their potential, set goals and dream big.
Hockey Has Heart Hockey people helping hockey families in need.
Women’s Sports Foundation Founded in 1974 by tennis legend, Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation is dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.
True Sport Foundation Committed to ensuring that sport makes a positive contribution to Canadian society, to our athletes and to the physical and moral development of Canada’s youth.
For even more ideas, check out Sports Philanthrophy Project for a list of hundreds of sports foundations.
There are a lot reasons why teams should do good and a lot of opportunities to do it. Share your ideas in the comments. If you send me a picture of your team’s effort this holiday season, I’ll post it in an upcoming blog.