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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2021 1 year ago

Windermere Prep student foundation shares sports equipment

Five sophomores are continuing the work of the Play for Keeps Foundation, which impacts less-fortunate youth in Central Florida.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Five teenagers at Windermere Preparatory School are combining their compassion and a love of sports to make a difference in the community through the Play for Keeps Foundation.
Sophomores Jackson Bennett, Michael Crocetti, Matthew Lucas, Maaz Mohuiddin and J.T. Rattigan have been holding fundraisers and donation drives to collect sports equipment that is delivered to Central Florida students in need.

Play for Keeps was started by Sue Lucas, who is president of the foundation.
“Our goals for the foundation are to impact less-fortunate kids in and around the Orlando area in a positive way, whether that being through sports, mentorship or any need that we can fulfill,” the students said. “We wanted to do something regarding sports because the majority of kids love sports, and it was all a passion of all the people who were involved.”
In the first event, the boys donated basketballs to Hungerford Elementary School.
“After word that their P.E. teacher was running low on usable basketballs, we fundraised a bit and got around 20 brand-new basketballs to donate.
The second event was a sports ball drive, and the foundation members reached out to the Windermere Prep community, asking students to bring in any sports equipment not being used at their homes. More than 60 balls were donated, as were jump ropes and other toys, and these were given to the Windsor Cove community.
“The parking lot was immediately turned into a playground when we showed up, with kids running around, throwing balls and having a blast. It was truly an eye-opening event for everyone involved to see how much of an impact the foundation can have,” the boys said. 
At Christmastime, the teens donated more than 300 stockings — filled with small gifts — to Mollie Rae Elementary students. This school was chosen because many of the students in the Windsor Cove community attend there.
“We really just aim to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children from all around the Orlando area,” the members said. “Whether it being through sports, mentorship or basic necessities we are here to help and be a positive influence on these children's lives.”
The most recent fundraiser was a “Kicks for Kids” virtual 5K. Their goal was $6,000, enough to buy 300 pairs of athletic shoes for students at Mollie Rae.
A total of 35 runners participated, and they received donations from people who weren’t able to run, too.
The teens reached their goal but continue to accept donations at so they can enrich the lives of even more children.
“It was a real learning experience to coordinate a virtual run, but I think we would all say it was a great first attempt,” the boys said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to collect money to buy sports equipment, food and clothing for students.
On the fundraising page, they wrote: “We believe that a ZIP code should not define how much exercise kids get and that coaches, mentors and sports can build confidence in our youth. We don't just make financial contributions. We find specific needs, purchase or collect those items, personally deliver them — and if it's a ball we stay for a few pick-up games. And we never leave without sharing some good food and hydration with the kids after a little exercise.”
The boys want to continue with their goal of providing joy to as many children as possible through sports.
Dr. Leslie Williams, high school director at WPS, is happy to see her students turn their love of sports into a project that helps others:
“We are so proud of their community outreach where they have taken their passions and put them into practice to help the community.”
“We know that our little non-profit won't change the world, but it will make a big difference in the world of every child that we reach,” they wrote on GoFundMe.


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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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