Mica Wenger, a senior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, recently visited the Chapman Partnership children’s shelter with donated soccer items. This time she also brought along some temporary Halloween tattoos for the kids and they were so happy, she said.
It’s the little things that can bring joy.
Mica, 17, started her community service project “Kick It Forward Miami” in 2014 to bring gently used and new soccer clothing and equipment to underprivileged Miami-Dade County students. Her mom, Mariel Wenger, said Mica’s project grew from a conversation about what to do with soccer uniforms once they were outgrown.
“The project was named ‘Kick It Forward Miami’ to reference the soccer theme and to emphasize the goals of ‘paying it forward’ by donating equipment, that was no longer of use, to a child that would otherwise not have the opportunity for such equipment,” Mariel Wenger said.
“Probably the best part of doing this project is meeting with the children and seeing their faces and how much they appreciate receiving the soccer equipment since most of them have never owned stuff like this,” Mica said. “Doing community service like this has really made me appreciate what I have on a daily basis. And it is also so nice to see how supportive our soccer community has been of our project.”
To get the items for donation, Mica has partnered with local soccer clubs and she uses social media platforms to gather uniforms, cleats, bags, soccer balls, and other equipment.
This year, she is hoping to add another component by coordinating with local soccer players to help them volunteer time on Saturdays to teach and play soccer with the children at the Chapman Partnership.
And she is trying to spread the word about getting even more donations.
“I am hopeful that the exposure that this article will provide me will allow Kick it Forward Miami to gather even more equipment next year and help even more children,” Mica said.
“The look on the children’s faces at Chapman when they are given the equipment has been priceless,” her mom said. “They are often literally in disbelief that they can keep the items. Tears are often shed by both the children at Chapman and us.”
If you have soccer items to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homestead Rock’N Ribfest
Support local children’s charities at the annual Homestead Rock’n Ribfest family fun event 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Harris Field, 1034 NE Eighth St., Homestead.
In past years, thousands of attendees have enjoyed some of the best barbecue flavors around. Once again, teams of rib masters will compete to be named the best of the best at this year’s Homestead Rock’n Ribfest. There also will be live music performances, a kids’ fun zone, face painting and plenty of vendors.
Entry fee is $10. Kids 10 and under are admitted free. To purchase tickets go to Eventbrite, http://bit.ly/2gJwyk6. They’re also available at the YMCA and the Keyes Real Estate office at 692 N. Homestead Blvd. For more, visit www.homesteadribfest.org or contact Larry Roth at 305-979-8424 or Larryroth@keyes.com.
Honoring women leaders
Seven outstanding South Florida women will be honored at the eighth annual Women of Distinction & Caring Luncheon hosted by Plaza Health Network Foundation. Tickets are still available and start at $150. The luncheon starts at 10 a.m., Nov. 16, at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Visit http://phnfoundation.org/. Proceeds will help support programs and services for seniors and patients.
This year’s honorees are Terry Buoniconti, Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Shelley Niceley Groff, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ana VeigaMilton, Terry Shikany and Grace Wang.
The event celebrates women in our community “who have made significant differences in the lives of others locally and globally through their leadership, volunteerism, professional work and philanthropy.”
Emceed by Diana Gonzalez, a past honoree and now the city of Miami’s communications director, the luncheon will begin with a champagne reception and shopping at on-site boutiques for handbags, jewelry, candles, shoes, and art along with sign-ups for silent auction items.
Help for Puerto Rico
Donations continue to be collected for our neighbors in Puerto Rico who are struggling with hurricane recovery.
Registered nurse Trudy N. Lechner, coordinator of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” has organized numerous relief efforts over the 25 years since the devastation by Hurricane Andrew. Her recent grassroots collections for supplies have helped Houston and the Florida Keys. Her latest is the Hurricane Maria Drive for Puerto Rico.
“Our neighbors tend to give up on donations after two to three weeks. My plan is to keep the drives alive as long as people are giving. And we all know how desperately Puerto Rico needs our help,” Lechner said in email.
She recently was able to send donations by private jet but will have to send by container this week, she said.
“With luck, this collection of goods will go directly to a Chabad in San Juan that was destroyed and yet they continue their community outreach with their meager goods,” Lechner said. “The other half will go to ‘Wings of Hope’ to enable them to continue their outstanding work. I was told that they have participated in every major disaster that has occurred. They are the foot soldiers who deliver and provide whatever they can to the neediest.”
She is also thinking about the holidays in Puerto Rico and wants to make sure the children have presents this year.
“I know it’s early, but transporting does seem to be difficult, so I think if we start early we might get a good number of donations. The toys need to be new,” she said.
There are numerous collection sites. To find one close to you, contact Lechner at 305-794-7384 or email@example.com. She also is looking for transporting help.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.