Last year, when my ’96 GODP daughter, Reace Garcia, received the notice she had been selected to the 2012 Region III ODP camp in Montevallo, Ala., she was really excited!

I was more like, “How am I going to pay for it?”

Shawn Morgan, NTSSA ODP Administrator, recommended I apply for the Ross Stewart Scholarship program, which waives a portion of the camp fee. In exchange, players who receive scholarship funds are required to participate in a soccer program sponsored by the Vickery Church every year called “Soccer Across America”.

Having never done any volunteer work in the past, we were not sure what to expect. However, what we experienced on a hot Saturday in July was something that would change us from then forward. We saw a bunch kids who loved the game of soccer playing with no shoes, socks or shin guards — and not by choice. They were refugees from countries they had to flee. Most fled with meager possessions.

After our first day of volunteering, Reace was determined to fit as many kids as she could with cleats, socks, shin guards and soccer balls. We don’t attend a church, so it wasn’t like we could just make an announcement to our home congregation asking for donations. We had to individually start asking friends and family from the soccer community to donate any soccer shoes and gear for the next weekend’s gathering. We managed to gather a substantial amount of soccer gear to pass out, but it was still not nearly enough. As a result, Reace set a goal to gather 100 pairs of shoes, sock and shin guards before the next year’s tournament.

Fast forwarding to today, Reace hasn’t yet met her goal. We have amplified our efforts by handing out fliers to friends and school kids. We have also posted the flyer on a Facebook page where we communicate for soccer pickup games.

Vickery Church now has a U16 boys’ team playing DESA. This is the first time these kids have played on an organized team with uniforms, referees and a possible trophy at the end. For the newly formed team, we were able to distribute new backpacks, individual water bottles and team water jugs donated by NTSSA and ODP. We now help with practices on Friday nights and attend every game.

Volunteering and asking for donations has gotten much easier now, because our Heart, Mind, and Soul are with these kids. For us, it’s not about how to attain a scholarship to attend Region III ODP camp anymore. It’s about our newfound family and winning soccer GAMES! Oh yeah, and helping the kids too, but mostly having fun winning soccer games!

We’d like to thank NTSSA, ODP, and McFadden and Miller for their generosity.

Go ‘96 GODP and Vickery United U16 Boys!!!!!

Thank you!


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