Households that got new sports equipment for the holidays now have another way to recycle gently-used, older sports gear, thanks to a Wisconsin non-profit that donates the older equipment to orphanages in other countries.
The non-profit is called GloBall Giving. Founder Mark Rolison says he's long been an athlete and always wanted to start his own charitable organization. Throw in an epiphany during a Habitat for Humanity trip to Kenya, when he and fellow travelers gave three soccer balls to students at a school.
"And the reaction i got from them was...it's difficult to put in words," he says. "Just a pure elation, and so the light bulb went off."
Rolison says a lot of developing nations don't have much sports equipment, while the U.S. has a lot of rarely-used or quickly outgrown sports gear. It's not always easy to ship overseas. GloBall Giving sent a first wave of donated baseball equipment, went to Honduras, to trusted contacts. But soccer items sent by boat to Brazil still have to get through customs. And, shipping can cost hundreds of dollars.
Still, in the Milwaukee area Rolison has been getting sports clubs, stores and schools to set out donation barrels to gather items for additional shipments. At Raymond School in Racine County this month, Rolison talked to students about the sports gear they don't use anymore.
"How many times has that equipment just sat in your garage?" he asked. "So the whole thought is recycle or upcycle to kids who have absolutely nothing. "
A spokeswoman at Raymond said last week that five GloBall Giving barrels had been filled, as part of the school's service learning project. Filled with sports equipment that someday may give a child overseas more of a chance to have success, or at least fun and exercise, in a game.