When Courtney Haring found out that perfectly good sports uniforms were gathering dust in school closets around town, she knew she had a job to do.
Haring, 18, organized athletic equipment drives at two Kirkwood churches as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. In all, she collected roughly 400 pieces of sports equipment and more than 1,000 retired uniforms to send to kids who are less fortunate.
“Some kids cannot participate in sports and receive the amazing experiences of playing on a team because they simply cannot afford it,” Haring said. “I wanted to give them the opportunity despite their income.”
Haring, a four-year member of the girls volleyball team, said she contacted area schools, including KHS, and found that many of them didn’t know what to do with their old uniforms.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “They had them in closets. They got new uniforms and they had no idea what to do with the old ones. They were pretty much collecting dust.”
Haring packed up and delivered about 1,310 uniforms, including 400 basketball uniforms, 250 tennis uniforms, and 200 soccer uniforms, to Heaven Sent Outreach Ministries in Kansas City, MO.
“The name of our ministry is Heaven Sent, and Courtney was heaven sent,” said Pastor Calvin Wainright, founder of the outreach ministry. “She is a jewel.”
Wainright said he was blown away by the magnitude of her project.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this big,” he said. "Many of the kids in the KC area will be blessed by the heart of this young lady."
In addition to the like-new uniforms, Haring delivered crates of gently used soccer cleats, shin guards, hockey sticks, gym bags, baseball bats, baseball gloves and hundreds of balls of all types. Wainright said he was distributing the items to individuals, coaches and others who work with youth in Kansas City and elsewhere.
“Instead of sitting inside doing nothing, kids can get outside and get some exercise and play,” he said.
To keep the giving going, Haring worked with younger Girl Scout troops at the two churches, and , to organize the drives. That way, she said, they can organize future drives and sustain the project.
In addition to sports equipment, the girls collected some 2,000 pairs of shoes of all types to donate to Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that delivers footwear to people in need all around the world.
“We decided why stop at athletic shoes,” Haring said. “Both churches were extremely generous in the drive. We made it as though it was a back-to-school drive so we decided not to just restrict it to athletic wear when many people were cleaning out their closets anyway.”
Haring, a member of Troop 3495, said she spent about 75 hours on the project, beginning last summer. She will receive her Gold Award in June. In addition to Girl Scouts, she has participated in Future Business Leaders of America and is a member of the National Honor Society.
In the fall, Haring expects to attend Emporia State University in Emporia, KS, where she will play volleyball. She plans to major in psychology and hopes to work as an elementary school counselor.