Sports equipment donation program gets underway

The first of four exchange events is set for Sept. 7

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A mother of young athletes has developed a sports equipment donation program.

Julia Ross said her two youngest children, ages 9 and 14, have been involved in basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer for several years.

She said the idea for the Clark County Equipment Exchange Program came about a few years ago when she and other family members were cleaning out the garage and getting ready to take a load to Goodwill.

“I started wondering about how we could better reuse the old, outgrown sports equipment we were collecting,” Ross said. “I wrote up a plan, but I was not able to act on it as I was working full time then. This summer while not working, I revisited the idea and just went for it.”

During her research, she did not find any active exchange type programs in the Southwest Washington area. Ross did find an active exchange program in Holton, Kan.

She said Debbie Ashcraft, operator of that sports equipment program, has been an excellent sounding board and source of advice.

Ross accepted donations of sports equipment twice this summer at the Camas Farmer’s Market. Donations included baseball bats and a box of cleats.

Ross founded the program to promote participation in youth sports programs and leagues by helping families offset the costs of purchasing new equipment. When young athletes outgrow equipment such as soccer cleats, they can exchange them for a larger size.

Donors are also invited to bring sports equipment sitting unused in their garages.

The Clark County Equipment Exchange Program accepts boys and girls baseball pants, gloves, football helmets, pads, soccer balls, shin guards, basketball shoes, tennis racquets, balls, and golf clubs and tees.

A donation drive will occur Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Ridgefield Farmers Market, 328 N. Main Ave.

Ross, of La Center, is planning to hold four equipment exchanges a year. The first one is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Marshall/Luepke Community Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.

“A family can bring in their child with equipment they have outgrown or can’t use and exchange it for things that fit,” she said.

It is first come, first served at the events.

“If there is a special need, a coach, league or school representative can get a hold of the program directly and we will see if we have what is needed,” Ross said.

If donors cannot make it to an event, contact Ross at 903-8451 or to arrange a pickup from homes or businesses.

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