BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Selflessly donating your time and energy to those in need is not an easy task, especially at a young age, but Gov. Livingston sophomore Aidan Linde did just that with his mission to help as many kids as possible through his very first youth sports equipment drive.
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in early 2020, Linde has been feeling grateful for the resources his family has provided for him, and has been more aware of those who are not as fortunate.
Connecting his passion for sports with his newfound interest in aiding those in need, Linde came up with the idea for a used sports equipment drive in his hometown of Berkeley Heights. He said, “It’s always a clothing drive; you never really see sports equipment drives.”
An athlete who competes in basketball, baseball, cross-country, and lacrosse, Linde said “I like sports a lot. -- I have a lot of old stuff laying around and other people will probably have the same.”
To realize his mission, Linde decided to work with Leveling the Playing Field, a youth sports charity based in Baltimore and Washington DC. He said, “This charity has a huge warehouse based in lower-income communities. If anyone living in the area wants to start a sports program, or if a school wants to start a sports camp, they are able to take stuff from the warehouse. They can return the equipment or keep it, and so I thought it was a good charity and I knew it was reliable,” said Linde.
With little expecations, Linde initially thought only his friends and neighbors would contribute to his mission. After information about his sports equipment drive was posted on social media and flyers were passed around town, Linde decided to create a dedicated Instagram account named @bhsportsdrive. All of this promotion had a ripple effect on the community, generating countless calls and donations.
In order to collect all of the donations, Linde said, “We had one pickup day on January 24th. There was a four-hour time slot where we picked up the equipment from about 20 addresses. That was just the one day; if they wanted to do it earlier or later than that day, there was a big bin in the front of my house that we would empty daily.”
All of the equipment—from baseball bats and basketballs to hockey pads and a pitching machine—was stored in Linde’s garage until late February when Leveling the Playing Field sent a truck to transport all of the donated equipment to their warehouse.
After this experience, Linde realizes that kids and teenagers like himself will continue to grow out of sports or change equipment sizes and so he has decided to make his sports equipment drive a yearly activity and will be planning future drives.
In response to his inaugurual sports equipment drive, Linde said, “I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone (who participated) because it wouldn’t be possible without their generosity. We could not have done it ourselves. Their help was really appreciated.”
Overall a successful mission, Linde is proud of the community support and is thrilled with his contribution to a larger foundation.