The Bristol Department of Public Works is running a sports equipment collection until the end of May, with all items collected being donated to Bristol Public Schools, as well as some area parochial schools.
Public Works Analyst Lindsey Rivers said she was inspired to begin the drive during Read Across America Day. While visiting Stafford Elementary School, where her son is a third grader, Rivers got a chance to play with some of the students during recess. That’s when she noticed that the children were playing with a soccer ball that was nearing the end of its usable life. Afterward, a second grade teacher reached out to Rivers, asking for sports equipment to be donated to the school.
“That sparked my idea to do a city-wide collection,” said Rivers. “If your kids are older or just don’t play with the stuff anymore, what would you do with it? You would throw it in the trash. So, keep it out of the trash and the kids get to use it until the end of its life.”
Items such as basketballs, softballs, soccer balls, and equipment that allows students to play safely at recess, are welcome. But, Rivers said, Public Works will accept most any donations and will take care of finding the items proper homes.
Recently, Rivers intercepted a trucks-worth of baseball equipment from the Edgewood Little League. Rivers reached out to the Roberto Clemente Little League group based in Cambridge Park to see if they wanted the gently used equipment.
Jay Maia, unit director of the Cambridge Park Boys and Girls Club of Bristol Family Center said that the kids were pumped to receive the new equipment.
“Every player will have their own helmet. They plan to paint them and add their names,” said Maia. “It gives our kids a sense of belonging and usefulness.”
Maia said that it was nice to have Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu join in, and, that “everyone showed a lot of love,” while the equipment drop off took place.
Rivers said she asked Maia if he could bring some of his Little League members to help pick up the equipment, but Maia had another idea.
“All of a sudden, he brings this bus and there’s like 20 kids piling out,” said Rivers. “And all the kids were super excited. It was nice.”
Rivers said donations have already been delivered to Stafford, Mountain View, Ivy Drive, Edgewood, and South Side schools. Once all of the public schools have received a donation, Rivers will distribute equipment to parochial schools in the area.
Donations can be brought to the Department of Public Works, on the ground floor of City Hall, 111 North Main St., Bristol. They will be accepting donations through the end of May.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.