HUNTINGTON — Children can grow like weeds.
For those who have children participating in youth sports once those children grow out of old uniforms and equipment can quickly find themselves with extra equipment and uniform parts presenting the issue of what to do with them.
Rather than throw those items out, a new solution is available to Huntington residents and will likely be available in other communities as well.
Holly Mount, of Huntington, has started Play It Forward Inc., a repository for what she called, “gently used” sports equipment that can help parents recycle items others may use. Mount, who has children who participate in sports, started Play It Forward after a conversation with another parent involved with Huntington Little League when she discovered her daughter’s old softball cleats could find a new home.
Then she read an article.
“The tipping point for this was I saw an article that said the typical parent pays 700 bucks on sports,” said Mount. “Well, the median household income here is $30,000. For many, $700 might not just be lying around.”
The parent she spoke to became one of her partners and now Mount, along with her husband Jeremy; Matt Adkins, a teacher at Huntington’s Spring Hill Elementary; and Andy Gilliland of Huntington Little League and a Marshall team doctor began pursuing an organization that could collect, donate, and apply for grant money that could help offset costs of sports equipment.
Play It Forward Inc. became registered with the state although a 501©(3) status is still pending.
“The main thing (501©(3) status) does is help us qualify for grants but there’s tax-related breaks for donations,” Mount said. “I’m a nurse, so I’m far from a tax expert.”
Mount said there is no cost in getting the equipment and the organization’s motto is “Take what you need, give what you’re able.”
As of now Play It Forward is in the “collection stage,” Mount said, and is focused solely on the sports leagues in Huntington including the YMCA which runs soccer and basketball leagues.
“If we can, we’ll offset a community need,” Mount said. “By getting kids in sports we’re helping fight obesity and keeps kids out of trouble.”
Mount started a Facebook page for Play It Forward (a week ago) and through word of mouth and mutual interest on the social media site has already gained 400 “likes.”
As word has gotten out about the idea, Mount said she has been contacted by those in need and those who want to give.
Trista Morgan, who lives near Barboursville, said Play It Forward sounded like a great idea.
“I have lots of shoes right now that are just sitting here not being used,” said Morgan, a mother of two boys involved in both baseball and basketball. “This would be great in any community. Do you know how many pairs of socks I have?
Morgan estimated that she and her husband spent nearly $850 on sports equipment to get each of her two sons into baseball, a fee that includes registration fees to the league but also includes $40 for new shoes one of her boys just outgrew.
Mount said he hopes her work inspires those in the Ashland area and in Lawrence County, Ohio, to start similar organizations, all while growing her business to meet needs of those in other areas.
Play It Forward’s first collection bin has been set up in Huntington St. Joseph grade school.