How to recycle your old sports gear
Keep a child's dreams alive by donating your used sporting goods.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 15:14
GIVE NEW LIFE TO THE OLD BALL AND GLOVE: Your unneeded equipment will get back in the action if you donate it today. (Photo: spcbrass/Flickr)
If you're cleaning out the garage this spring and discover some no longer needed sporting goods, don't toss them out! This is the perfect time of the year to help organizations that collect and distribute used equipment to schools, activity groups, teams and kids who couldn't afford to buy their own. Without these donations, many children would go without the joyful experience of simply playing with a ball in the back yard or belonging to a baseball team.
On a local level, many sports enthusiasts are eager to take your donations. Schools, church groups, youth activity centers, boy/girl scouts, the YMCA and sports leagues will often know of a good recipient for your items if they are not looking for the equipment themselves. Foster agencies or other groups that mentor children can put your donation straight into the hands of a child longing to join a team or have their first camping adventure.
Looking outside of your community? The internet is a very useful tool to help you place your donation with just the right person or organization that will use it.
Sportsgift.org helps provide new and used sports gear to impoverished children throughout the world. They can help you or your group plan a collection event and put you in contact with someone in your community looking for the donation, or beyond. Sports Gift has placed over 250,000 pieces of used equipment in the United States and several third world countries. They also accept new items and keep a list posted on their website of the donations they are seeking.
iLoveschools.com allows teachers, coaches and schools to post their specific wants and needs. This is a national database which lets you search your community, your hometown or the school your grandchildren attend, so you can find the location where you think you could make the biggest difference.
Swapmesports.com offers a free listing for people interested in buying, selling, trading or donating sporting goods. Users can search by ZIP code to match them up with others interested in their goods.
Similarly, the Freecycle Network and Craigslist allow you to post your items for free. Both sites put donors in touch with recipients and allow the parties to arrange for pick-up or shipment on their own.
If you're wondering what to do with your used athletic shoes, the internet abounds with groups collecting or recycling them. For shoes that are beyond wear, Nike's Reuse-a-shoe has taken more than 25 million pairs and broken them down into materials for playing surfaces such as tennis courts and innovative technologies that could change the way we view electricity.
While these organizations would love your donation, don't forget that local thrift stores would also be eager to accept your equipment. Groups such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army use the money earned from selling your items to fund community services and educational programs for the disadvantaged.
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