MILTON, Ga. – Thanks to the generosity of the Milton High School soccer teams, the 25 players at the Deschapelles United Soccer School in Haut-Dodard, Haiti, will be playing soccer this season.
Earlier this year, Milton varsity soccer player Bradley Streit and his mother Laura traveled to Haiti with Soles4Souls, a charitable organization that provides shoes to those in need worldwide. But beforehand, Streit knew that for many Haitian youth, soccer might be their pathway out of poverty. Therefore, when soccer season began in the spring for his school, Streit put the word out that he was organizing a soccer gear drive for a youth soccer club in Haiti. He called upon his teammates for shoes, socks, shin guards, balls and uniforms. The response made it possible to have enough gear to outfit all the kids.
Streit himself purchased 40 soccer balls for the trip, costing him a total of $450. Some, he donated to Soles4Souls for use in their community center, and the others went to a local school, Saint-Louis de Gonzague.
In between shoe distributions in Haiti, Streit had the opportunity to play soccer with some of the local children and realized that shoes were not only necessary for the game but also for the sake of the children’s health. Due to damage still left over from the earthquake and the mountainous terrain, children were subject to cut up and scratched feet, which in turn made them victims of infections, parasites and other diseases.
Overall, Streit and his mother fit over 500 children with shoes and were stunned by the gratitude they received. The young Haitians didn’t want to put on their new shoes until their old ones had completely fallen apart; they walked up holding the shoes close to their chest with smiles on their faces, Streit’s mother said.
Streit received a letter from the club and a card, hand-signed by the entire team.
“It makes me feel really good that something so simple brought so much happiness to someone else, and maybe make a difference in their lives,” Streit said. “I appreciate my teammates for being so generous in sharing our love for soccer with kids thousands of miles away.”