Students Collecting Sports Gear For Underprivileged Kids

OCEAN CITY – Students at six area schools have been busy collecting sports equipment and raising money to give children in need around the world much-needed opportunities to participate in sports and healthy activities.

The collections are being done in honor of Sammy Wilkinson, the 8-year-old Ocean City resident who loved helping others and playing sports before he died in a tragic accident at Northside Park several years ago.

“It is our goal to have area schools in Ocean City become the model for all schools across the country to provide quality sports equipment to children in need around the world,” said Al “Hondo” Handy, the recreation supervisor for the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department, who is overseeing the initiative. “Since two of Sammy’s biggest passions were helping others and playing sports, it is truly fitting to see so many children in the community getting involved in his honor to help those who are less fortunate.”

All the sports equipment that is being collected will be shipped to underprivileged children around the world by the International Alliance for Youth Sports (IAYS) and its Global Gear Drive program. Children living in some of the most poverty-stricken and war-ravaged regions of the world including Africa, India, Dominica and Mexico will be recipients.

“It is really wonderful to see so many youngsters in the community getting involved and doing what they can, along with all the teachers at these schools who have been so enthusiastic and supportive,” said Bob Wilkinson, Sammy’s father and chairman of the Sammy Wilkinson Memorial World Fund. “What we’re establishing here in Ocean City will serve as the model for other communities around the country who want to get involved to help children who desperately need something positive in their lives.”

The area schools participating in the equipment drive are Stephen Decatur High School, Stephen Decatur Middle School, Berlin Intermediate School, Showell Elementary School, Ocean City Elementary School and Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. 

All of the schools have come up with innovative ways to generate equipment donations and raise money. At Showell Elementary students are allowed to wear their favorite jerseys and hats to school if they make an equipment donation; at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School students don’t have to wear their school uniform if they donate some type of sports equipment; at Stephen Decatur High School their athletic teams donated equipment; at Stephen Decatur Middle School the physical education classes did equipment drives; at Berlin Intermediate School students and teachers signed the Game On! ball to raise donations; and at Ocean City Elementary they did an equipment drive that included casual days for teachers.

“All of the schools have really done an amazing job with the creative approaches they’ve taken,” Handy said. “I applaud all the teachers and students for their involvement. Everyone should feel really good about what they have done because we really are making a difference in the lives of children around the world one ball at a time.”

The donated equipment is used for the IAYS’ Game On! Youth Sports program, which provides children with opportunities to play sports and enjoy physical activity who otherwise would never have the opportunity to do so.

For more information on Game On! Youth Sports and the Global Gear Drive contact the International Alliance for Youth Sports at 800-729-2057; visit www.iays.org; or email international@iays.org.

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