When your kids outgrow their sports equipment and jerseys, or lose interest in a sport altogether, you might find yourself with a big collection of gear taking up space in your garage, closet or attic. Put it to good use by selling or donating it to other families and those less privileged. "Donating sports equipment offers it a second chance to touch lives, rather than resigning it to a landfill forever," says Robbie Palmisano, a Duke University student who founded All Kids Should Play in Baltimore, Maryland, when he was a high school senior. "If someone donates just one basketball, that's twenty more kids who can play the sport of basketball." Giving away gear does more than ease a family's financial concerns; it gives children an opportunity to learn discipline, cooperation, teamwork and fun through sports. Take a look at these options to see which best suits your needs.
Consignment shops can be a stellar home for your outgrown or unwanted sports items, as long as they're in good enough condition to be accepted. Stefanie Mathews, owner of Flip Consignment in New Providence, New Jersey, says: "Some of the items are brand new, with tags still on them. I look at items people bring in and think 'would I buy that?'" Consignment is a win-win for the buyer as well as the seller: The buyer gets good gear without spending a fortune, and the seller gets a percentage of the sale, which could then be put toward buying new gear. Mathews regularly posts information on new inventory on her store's Facebook page, and customers can ask questions about an item, or reserve it. Visit your local consignment shop, and check the shop's social media pages, to see what's in demand and what's being accepted.
You might list items for sale on your personal social media pages or Facebook group pages. It's often easier to sell items to people you know personally, and people in your area. Perhaps your neighbor will want to save on football pads for her growing teenager, or child skis for her youngest to use on an upcoming snow trip.
Check with your kids' school for potential opportunities for donation. With budgets tight these days, your tennis rackets, gymnastics mats and other items might be just what the gym needs. Additionally, schools often organize drives to send items to inner-city schools, orphanages and other places of need. Simply take the equipment to the front office during your daily drop-off.
Churches, community centers and youth mentoring centers may accept gently used sports equipment for their child care programs or classes. Call your local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and women's shelter, which would all surely welcome your donations.
If you'd rather redistribute your gear within your community, hold a garage sale, or post items on Craigslist or Freecycle, where you can post images and descriptions of your items, and locals on the hunt for them can contact you to arrange a pickup. (For this site and others that involve strangers potentially coming to your home to retrieve items, always follow the safety instructions on the site.)
Sports Gift Inc. is a nonprofit that has distributed sports equipment to impoverished children in over 60 countries across the globe. Sports organizations, university sports programs and major corporations, such as Google and Staples, support its donations. Visit the Sports Gift website for ways to donate.
Kids outgrow shoes at a remarkable rate, sometimes in just one sports season. Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program takes old worn-out athletic shoes and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create playgrounds and athletic surfaces. More than 1.5 million pairs of shoes are collected each year. Check out the Nike website to find out more about this program and find the closest drop-off location.
Sports are universal activities that transcend geography and culture. Providing those in need with sports equipment offers both children and parents hope and optimism.