A massive donation project is under way in Colorado to collect 10,000 shoes, shin guards and soccer balls for underprivileged children throughout the world.
"The project started with one little boy who opened his big heart and mind," said 7NEWS Reporter Karlyn Tilley.
Jared Jolton loves to play soccer, but he never knew how far he could take his love for the game until he was cleaning out the family closet one spring afternoon.
"The kids grow so fast and every season it's something new and Jared said, 'I'm fortunate that I get this new gear every year and I wish I could give these shoes that are hardly even used to someone else,'" said Jill Jolton, Jared's mother.
Jared figured he had 10 pairs of shoes and, if 1,000 families had the same amount, he could collect 10,000 shoes.
Jared plays for the Colorado Rush soccer program. When the coaches and players heard of his idea, they helped him make it a reality.
"And before I knew it, not only were we going to go for 10,000 soccer shoes and balls
we're going to 10 third-world countries." Said Donna Pettigrew, the coordinator of the Jared Project.
"This brings things back to a perspective, keeps our feet on the ground, and I think that's what it's doing for our kids," said Erik Bushey, Colorado Rush technical director. "It's broadening their horizons."
The dedication of so many young soccer players and coaches caught the attention of the Colorado Rapids, who invited the players onto the field.
"But just as amazing as Jared's tour of the field was what was happening off the field," said Tilley. "Donation bins outside the Rapids game were filling up fast."
The donations were from individuals and other soccer teams.
"We probably brought 300 to 400 pounds of stuff," said Dawn Hughes, a girls' soccer coach. "For the team, it was a huge bonding experience just to get us all out here and it is a really nice cause."
Jared is happy with the response.
"It's so cool that many other kids are going to get to play soccer because of all these people," he said.
Soccer equipment is going to Iraq, Poland, Kurdistan, Turkey and Thailand, just to name a few of the countries .
"Jared likely has no idea just how many kids he's touched but he does know it feels great to give," said Tilley.
"Now that people know how to get things started and that things do happen, they'll be more motivated to do things like that," said Jared.
"I'm just so proud of him that he could think in a global way, to think how one person could affect such a big area," said Jill.
Soon, you will have an opportunity to help the Jared Project. On Oct. 16, you can bring any new or gently used soccer gear to the Colorado Rapids game. There will be bins outside the stadium to collect gear.
You can also take donations to the Colorado Rush office at 7112 West Jefferson Ave., Suite 100, in Lakewood, Colo., and receive a discounted ticket for the Rapids game. Drop-off hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call the Colorado Rush office at (303) 986-5200.
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