Kicking a soccer ball. Swinging a baseball bat. Shooting hoops.
Many American children can take these activities for granted — but such privileges aren't so common in foreign countries, as Port Washington resident Mark Rolison found out while on a Habitat for Humanity trip to Kenya.
"We went to a normal school with about 200 kids, and they didn't have one soccer ball," he said. "So, we donated three balls. You can't describe the elation — they were so happy. The lightbulb went off in my head."
Rolison quickly started formulating plans for what is now called "GloBall Giving," a nonprofit organization that collects used sporting goods equipment to donate to children around the world.
Andy Wiziarde, a member of the nonprofit's board, said that when children who have practically nothing are given a soccer ball or baseball, "their level of elation is 100 times higher than we see typically in our country."
Wiziarde is one of the founding members of the group, having met with Rollison shortly after his trip. The two of them hashed out the concept, and the nonprofit was officially founded in 2011.
Wiziarde said being a part of such a grass roots program makes it extra rewarding.
"You're able to make an immediate impact in activities that would be deemed tiny by a lot of people's definitions," he said, describing drives during which only a half-dozen barrels might be filled — but every piece counts.
2 1/2 tons collected
Since its founding, the group has collected more than 5,000 pounds of sporting goods, and has made two shipments of supplies to Brazil and Guatemala, Rollison said. Next week, a shipment will be made to help a soccer camp in Ghana.
"The idea is really simple. Don’t throw your stuff away — give it to us, we’ll collect it," said Tom Didier, another board member.
Rolison has much bigger plans for the nonprofit, too, hoping to someday be able to hire a program director and launch the program nationally, he said. For now, most of the items are stored in his business' building at 140 S. Park St., Port Washington.
How you can help
Collection bins can be seen in various places throughout the community, such as at the YMCA, Burghardt Sporting Goods in Fox Point, and various other locations, Rolison said. GloBall Giving focus on collecting items for three sports: soccer, basketball and baseball.
Though the group has collected a lot of equipment, they say they do need cash donations to defray shipping costs. A dinner fundraiser is scheduled on Oct. 27 at the River Club of Mequon in an attempt to help raise funds and awareness.
"Since we have almost zero overhead, the funds (from the Mequon event) are going to get the equipment to the kids and budgeting for a dynamic director to help make GloBall Giving a national entity," Rolison said in an e-mail. "Not only do I want GloBall to help deserving children, but we will also be making a positive impact on recycling efforts and giving back to the local community by providing jobs and opportunities."
For more information about GloBall Giving or the event, contact Mark Rollison via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.