Ethan Wenger, a senior at Miami Palmetto Senior High, has been playing soccer since he was 3 years old. He started on a team at Pinecrest Premier Soccer Club when he was 5.
He learned fast how much is required — uniforms, shoes, equipment — to play.
“After a few years of playing soccer and seeing how quickly I grew out of my soccer uniforms and cleats, my family and I realized that we could gather and donate this still relatively new equipment to children who could not afford to buy their own,” said Ethan, 17.
His sister, Mica, started the donation project with him six years ago. She’s now a sophomore at the University of Miami.
“Initially, my sister helped with the project as she is three years older and together we began an organization called ‘Kick it Forward Miami.’ The idea of the organization was to reach out to other families who similarly had equipment that they no longer needed and donate this to local organizations,” he said.
He partners with local soccer clubs and uses social media platforms to collect what is needed for Miami-Dade students to play on teams.
“Over the years, we have donated cleats, sneakers, entire uniforms, jerseys, socks, etc., to various agencies, including schools, a group that taught children with autism to play soccer, and to the Chapman Partnership,” Ethan said.
His mom, Mariel Wenger, said giving like this to help other kids is inspiring.
“Along the way, there have been opportunities to meet with the children that receive the equipment and even to spend some time playing soccer with them. The appreciation and joy that the children experience from receiving the equipment has always been priceless,” she said. “They are often literally in disbelief that they can keep the items. Tears are often shed by the children at Chapman and ourselves.”
Some of the equipment has also been donated to the Miami Palmetto Senior High School Soccer team where Ethan has been playing since he was a freshman, she said.
“We named the project “Kick it Forward Miami” to both make reference to the soccer theme and to emphasize the goals of ‘paying it forward,’” she said.
Ethan said he is excited to continue the project and looks forward each year to meeting some of the children that benefit from the donations.
“The club I have played for all these years recently donated brand new uniforms and jerseys that they no longer needed and I dropped this all off at Chapman Partnership,” he said.
“I am hoping that this will all continue and that I will have more equipment to donate to even more organizations and children next year.”
To make a donation to this cause, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leading through volunteering
United Way of Miami-Dade’s LINC members, all under age 30, and Young Leaders, up to age 40, dedicated time during August to beautifying areas at Lindsey Hopkins Technical College and Miami Shores Elementary.
At Lindsey Hopkins, 75 LINC volunteers spent a rainy Saturday painting an outdoor mural and sorting donations in the prom boutique, where families with children in Miami-Dade County Public Schools can get shoes and clothing, and shop at a food pantry.
At the elementary school, 40 Young Leaders decorated the teacher’s lounge, installed a free library, created an outdoor learning space, and painted a tricycle track.
When the Young Leaders noticed the refrigerator in the teachers’ lounge was not operating, the volunteers raised the money needed to buy a new refrigerator and a microwave for the teachers. Both were installed the same day.
LINC and Young Leaders always need new members to help. LINC volunteers are age 30 and under and make an annual gift of $250 or more. Young Leaders are ages up to 40 and they make an annual donation of $1,000 or more.
All the volunteers lend their knowledge and time to build a stronger Miami year-round through service projects. They also take part in personal and professional development opportunities, and social events. To participate, contact 305-646-7013, LINC@unitedwaymiami.org or visit United Way of Miami-Dade LINC.
Two member authors of the South Florida Writers Association will present their works at the next Authors Showcase 6-8 p.m., Oct. 19, at Books & Books in Suniland, 11297 S. Dixie Hwy.
Beverly Melasi-Haag is in her second term as president of the SFWA and is a kids mystery book author and the ghostwriter of 14 books. She will present her book “The Mystery of the Square Well” at this event.
Ricki Dorn is a past president and director-at-large of SFWA. She will share poems from her third published collection, “Poetry, My First Language.”
She is an English professor at Miami Dade College and Florida International University and has been a high school English and journalism teacher, news reporter, and editor.
Separate from the showcase is the next meeting of the SFWA, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Oct. 5, at the Pinecrest Library, 5835 SE 111 St. Frances Yahia will present her book “The Seven Gates: Seven Steps Beyond Self-Awareness.” The meetings are free and open to the public. More at www.southfloridawriters.org.
British Foodie Gala
Get set to indulge in pomp and splendor at this upcoming black-tie fundraiser to benefit important outreach efforts of the Coral Gables Community Foundation.
“The Biltmore Ball: London Calling, Windsor Wonderland” will take guests on a culinary journey to Great Britain with a lavish meal fit for kings and queens prepared by award-winning Biltmore chefs.
“It’s a tremendous point of pride to unveil the latest edition of our gala — most especially in tandem with the Biltmore Hotel,” said Mary Snow, executive director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation. “This year’s event will pay special tribute to Coral Gables, serving as a celebration of our city’s distinctive heritage and worldly roots.”
The gala is co-chaired for the fifth year by Sissy DeMaria Koehne and for the second year with Lauren Harrison. In addition to enjoying entertainment by the Beatlemaniax, guests will enjoy a silent auction filled with exotic worldwide travel excursions, luxury retail items, and gift certificates.
The fun starts at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11, at The Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave. For tickets and details visit www.gablesfoundation.org. Or contact Snow at 305-446-9670 or email@example.com.
If you have news for this column, send it to CHRISTINAMMAYO@GMAIL.COM.