BALTIMORE – Sports can teach kids life lessons about perseverance and discipline, as well as learning how to be a team player. Sports can also provide children with the health benefits of physical exercise.
Without the proper equipment, it can be a challenge for youth organizations to fulfill the needs of kids who want to play sports.
The non-profit Leveling the Playing Field helps dozens of other non-profit organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Baltimore.
The Boys and Girls Club is more than a place for kids to play and have fun, it’s also a place where donations to level the playing field can make a difference in the community.
Whether it’s working on their best jump shot, practicing their forehand, or giving it their all, many kids had a lot more to say about what they can do at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore.
Nine-year-old Shatirah Brown said she likes the Boys and Girls Club because she can play, talk with her friends, and learn new things, as well as dance.
Six-year-old Gavin Lake said he likes the Boys and Girls Club because he likes to play football and basketball, go outside or play in the gym.
Overall, both Shatirah and Gavin said they like to have fun.
Donations from Leveling the Playing Field help make all of those activities possible. Donations keep the Boys and Girls Club’s equipment closet well-stocked with bats, balls, nets, and just about anything else you can use to hit, kick, or throw.
Boys and Girls Clubs Webster-Kendrick club manager M. Safire Windley said “a lot of our young people here in the inner-city haven’t had the opportunity to play lacrosse or tennis or even soccer, so by them having this type of equipment not only does it save us money it also gives them an opportunity to really, again, just have access. ”
Windley explained just how much of a difference each donation makes to the bottom line.
“If Leveling the Playing Field was not in existence, the Boys and Girls Club would have an expense line that would be out of this world because we service right now more than six clubs in the metropolitan Baltimore area. So, to try to make sure that every club has a sufficient and the amount of equipment i mean it would really be costly, ”Windley said.
While the amount of savings those donations provide to the club can be measured in the numerous smiles, laughter and cheers.
“I know that these kids they really do appreciate the partnership that’s in place and I will say I’ve spoken more to them about who, you know, how we had access or gain access to the sporting equipment, so that they can also have ownership and take care of what we do have that’s been donated, ”Windley said.
As a club manager, Windley is also equally grateful for the efforts of leveling the playing field.
“They make it incredibly easy to make the appointment so that you can go and visit their warehouse and go ahead and shop,” Windley said.
It’s a warehouse which shows what might be one person’s trash truly can be another person’s treasure.
“That basketball that sitting in the garage. If it’s that lacrosse stick. If it is that tennis net, which I’m looking for right now, so that I can just kind of put it up here. Even ping-pong tables, pool tables, air hockey tables, ”Windley said.
“I wouldn’t count anything out. If you just go and take a look at their website, I’m pretty sure that item that you’re considering tossing would actually be of great use, ”Windley said.
Each donation is not only an investment in a child’s happiness for today but their future.
“You’ll see a lot of times at the end of the day our kids, our members, don’t even want to go home. So, to me that’s a level of success that we are really not just reaching them but that we are… I’m taking full advantage of the opportunity to develop young responsible caring citizens, ”Windley added.
The Boys and Girls Club recently started to organize basketball teams representing each of the six Boys and Girls Clubs in the city. One thing Windley hopes people will donate are basketball jerseys for the kids to wear.
A list of acceptable donations to Leveling the Playing Field may be found here.