Southland sporting goods drive scores big
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org January 7, 2013 6:52PM
Sun-Times South Region Field Marketer Jamie Makuch (far left), Andrew Steele (background center), major gifts officer with the South-Southwest Suburban United Way, and South-Southwest Suburban United Way intern Colin Burnett (background right) watch as donated sporting good items are loaded for transport by Charlie Grobe (front center) and Garralle Harvey (below right), both with Hassett Commercial Moving & Storage, at the SouthtownStar office Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, at 18312 West Creek Drive in Tinley Park. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 8, 2013 9:32AM
One coach’s idea to donate used baseball equipment turned into a big hit as more than 1,000 pieces of gently used sports equipment were collected in South-Southwest Suburban United Way’s first-ever sporting goods drive.
Dan Jones, an Oak Forest baseball coach, initially contacted the SouthtownStar about finding a recipient for his team’s used equipment. That led to a partnership with United Way and the SouthtownStar.
Jamie Makuch, the newspaper’s south region field marketer, coordinated the event with United Way’s Andrew Steele and promoted the “Healthy Kids Sporting Goods Drive” from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30.
“It’s the first annual sporting goods drive for us, but this will definitely happen again,” Steele said Monday as movers picked up the last of the items.
“This took off much better than we anticipated,” said Steele, United Way’s major gifts officer.
Among the 1,000-plus items were golf clubs and golf balls, soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs, footballs, fishing poles, tennis rackets and skateboards. But others donated football down markers, water jugs, helmets, spikes and boxes of hockey sticks and pucks.
Donors brought items to three collection sites — United Way’s Matteson office, the Crestwood Rec Center and the SouthtownStar’s conference room. It all was delivered to Restoration Ministries in Harvey, a United Way agency that sponsors many youth programs.
“It is awesome to see such initiative,” Steele said. “You can make a difference without giving money.”
“I knew these donated items could go to good use in the community,” Jones said.
His donation inspired others. After reading an article in the SouthtownStar about this effort, David Kavalauskas, 14, also of Oak Forest, held a bake sale at an Arbor Park School girls basketball game as a National Junior Honor Society project and donated $111 to the sporting goods drive.
“He’s a sports kid himself,” said his mother, Patty Kavalauskas.
A donor who didn’t have used equipment came to the SouthtownStar’s Tinley Park office with bags of brand-new footballs and baseballs.
Even the movers from Hassett Commercial Moving and Storage in Lombard donated their time, truck and labor. As they hauled out the last load, Steele and Makuch laughed when they saw the first small brown box they thought would hold all the donations.
“We thought we would need a van or two to move it all,” Steele said. “We could not have done it without (Hassett).”
Next year, Steele and the SouthtownStar hope to expand the sporting goods drive, to offer more drop-off sites and engage more volunteers.
Before then, the South-Southwest Suburban United Way will host a food drive in April.
“We want to help people volunteer by donating their time, treasures and talents,” Steele said.