Middle School student kicks off soccer non-profit
Wilbraham & Monson Academy student and longtime soccer player Gianna Mitchell ’17 has been kicking around the idea of giving back to the sport she loves for some time now. When she heard WMA’s Chris Sparks had a connection with Haiti and learned about the country’s need for proper soccer equipment, she ran with the ball.
Many children in Haiti grow up playing soccer but often do not have the proper equipment. They even play barefoot. “I connected with a Haitian soccer coach through email and he said anything would help,” Gianna explained. “Cleats, shin guards, uniforms and especially soccer balls are needed.”
Gianna’s family is assisting in getting her non-profit, Two-Six for Kicks, off the ground. The state has approved her non-profit status and now they are waiting for Federal approval. Also, a logo and website are in the works.
“I have a collection bin at home and we’re working on getting bins at some local stores,” she said. Currently there are two collection bins on the WMA campus: one in Rich Hall and one in the Athletic Center. Over the summer, the public will be able to make donations using the bin in Rich Hall.
Once the collection bins are full, the equipment will be packaged up and sent to Haiti. To help subsidize the cost of shipping, which is about $180 per shipment, Gianna is working as a soccer referee.
Being a part of this entrepreneurial-thinking community and seeing first-hand the commitment the Academy has to service, Gianna was inspired. “I’ve participated in some school-sponsored community service events, like going to the soup kitchen, but I just felt like I wanted to do something personally,” Gianna explained. “I felt the need to make my mark.”
Why “Two-Six” for Kicks? “Two-Six comes from my jersey number 26,” Gianna explained. “That was my dad’s number in college and I was born on the 26th. My number has always been 26 for as long as I can remember!
“I share the love for soccer with them [people of Haiti] so much and I wouldn’t want someone to have to risk getting injured in order to play because they don’t have shin guards and cleats,” Gianna expressed. “We have so much of it here, it just makes sense to help them.”