Jeff Bultje brought 1,000 pairs of slightly-used soccer shoes and uniforms to Haiti this fall, where they brought smiles to many children.
Bultje, a member of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Chatham, Ontario, collects the shoes at the end of every soccer season. “We usually make the announcement [about the opportunity to donate used soccer gear] at the trophy presentation,” said Bultje. “Some kids will literally strip right down, donate it all, and go home all smiles—in their underwear!”
Parents also appreciate the program, since it means outgrown equipment can be put to good use.
Bultje’s visits have brought him face to face with the poverty of Haitian kids. Many kids play soccer barefoot, which often results in injury, cuts, and infections. Other kids simply give up on playing without equipment, and often get into trouble with gangs or other destructive past-times. The gift of soccer shoes helps to protect children from these dangers.
Bultje distributed the gear with retired pro soccer player Robert “Boby” Duval, a native of Haiti who runs a soccer camp near the slum of Cite Soleil.
“By God's planning, we found this [soccer camp],” said Bultje, “and they needed equipment.”
Bultje noted that collecting used gear could be done in by anyone for any country, since soccer is popular throughout the world. “This [project] gives [kids] hope for a better future─all kids need that,” he said.
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmNZaw6-akk for a CNN video clip about Boby Duval.