SUMMIT, NJ - A large, truck-sized container -- filled with a variety of sports equipment -- was sent on it way to Maryland-based non-profit Leveling The Playing Field, courtesy of a two-week athletic equipment drive held by Oak Knoll School.
The items, such as neakers, cleats, baseball cloves and helmets in addition to three barrels full of bats as well as sticks for field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey, will be distributed by LFP to children who would not otherwise have equipment to play sports.
The equipment will benefit youth centers and other groups to address the fact that as many as one in five underserved families are not getting children involved in youth sports due to the price of sporting equipment, according to the organization.
“We are excited to have been able to contribute to the great work that the Leveling the Playing Field organization is doing to provide athletic equipment to disadvantaged youth throughout the country,” said Oak Knoll Athletic Director Kelly O’Neil. “It was great to have student involvement in this first year of hosting an Oak Knoll School drive, and we look forward to increasing the student and family involvement next year."
O'Neil lauded the Upper and Lower school students who were instrumental in advertising and organizing the drive on campus: Elsa Maurizi ’20, Kylie Gall ’20, Mabel McNamara ’20, Emily Antunes ’20, Christina Maurizi ’18, Caroline Casey ’20, Kear O’Malley ’24, Matthew Gatward ’24 and Carolina O’Malley ’26.
The organization was introduced to Oak Knoll by Kear and Carolina’s father, Kevin O’Malley, who learned about LPF from a nearby organized drive in Summit.
“We decided to do this for two main reasons: The first was the simple belief that the community had plenty of valuable equipment that could be donated and easily repurposed for kids to be put back on the playing fields,” O’Malley said. “Secondly, we thought it would be a great outlet to get the children directly involved in a charity that they could both relate to as well as do the work themselves.”
Like O’Neil, O’Malley hopes the Oak Knoll will continue with the LPF drive in the future. “This particular charity is a great reminder that charity need not be complex, expensive, time consuming nor indirectly related. "There is a very tangible connection for our children to provide good quality sports equipment to children who would very likely not be able to play sports without it.”