By SAMANTHA MONTEREY, staff reporter
Natasha Borromeo, senior mathematics major and international public relations director for Playing for Kickz, will be collecting gently worn tennis shoes for underprivileged children in the Philippines.
The Playing for Kickz shoe drive will run until graduation on June 8. As the international public relations director, Borromeo oversees the collection of shoes in the state of Washington and the distribution of shoes in the Philippines. This August, Borromeo will travel to the Philippines to personally deliver the shoes.
Playing for Kickz is a nonprofit organization based out of Portland. Its mission is to motivate youth to become active by providing them with tennis shoes. The organization began with two Warner Pacific College athletes and a bag full of tennis shoes.
Nate Holthenrichs is Director of Operations at Playing for Kickz.
“I was in my junior year of college and was asked by my coach to clean out the locker room,” Holthenrichs said. “By the time I got done, I had a bag full probably about 40 shoes and I didn’t know what to do with it them.”
Holthenrichs and a former teammate thought of an idea: put the shoes on the feet of people in need, rather than throw them away or donate them to Goodwill to be resold.
The idea eventually became a successful non-profit business.
According to Holthenrichs, it goes beyond giving underprivliged youth tennis shoes.
“The root of it is not just about putting shoes on their feet, we want to spark a change in someone’s lifestyle or spark a change to become active in sports,” Holthenrichs said, “because we realize all the benefits sports can have physically and in your personality.”
Playing for Kickz also sponsors basketball camps while distributing shoes, inhopes to inspire the youth to become athletes and pursue sports.
Although the organization would like to reach youth on a national level, it has had a much better response donating used footwear abroad.
“We want to be able to collect shoes for both the U.S. and abroad, however, we’ve found it difficult to donate or give out used shoes here in the U.S.,” Holthenrichs said. “But we are partnered with the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers, Big Sisters in the Portland area.”
This is the first Playing for Kickz shoe drive at Central. Aside from local efforts, the Philippines is currently the non-profit major outlet.
Playing for Kickz has recently partnered with several universities in Oregon such as Oregon State University.
Western Washington University’s Filipino-American Student Association recently selected Playing for Kickz as a charity for fundraising for their fifth Annual Filipino Culture Night this May.
Western personally invited Borromeo to give a speech about the organization and the shoe drive, but for Borromeo, gaining promotion at Central is her first step.
Central student Marcus Harkins learned about Playing for Kickz through Borromeo and has decided to get involved with her shoe drive.
“Playing for Kickz allows students to be out and active,” Harkins said. “A huge epidemic of kids are being lazy and staying inside. It might, or will, allow them to get outside and stay active.”
While he hasn’t specifically worked with the organization, Harkins gave a speech about it in a class and said he has a bag full of shoes waiting for them.
Students who are unsure of whether or not their shoes are too damaged should donate them anyway.
According to Holthenrichs, they are generally sent to Nike reUSE, where they are ground down in a factory.
The material, Nike grind, is sold to build or repair sports surfaces.
In the future, Playing for Kickz hopes to partner with Courts for Kids, an organization dedicated to building courts in economically disadvantaged neighborhoords.
“We really want to use the raw materials and create a court ourselves and not have to buy the material back,” Holthenrichs said.
Regardless of the condition of the shoes, the org will utilize them.
“I think Playing for Kickz is a great organization,” Harkins said. Giving back to kids that don’t have the opportunities we have over here.