All MLS and WPS soccer teams allocate at least one day in their busy schedules to participate in the Passback Program, but this year, two squads stood above the rest: the LA Galaxy (MLS) and the Chicago Red Stars (WPS).
The Galaxy collected 4,185 pieces of equipment, while the Red Stars amassed 1,000 pieces of gear – both totals were the most in the teams’ respective leagues.
The Red Stars total was particularly impressive, considering the team and league were only in their first year of existence.
“Our team, including our owners, players and front office staff, are all very community focused, and we know that this is a great way to give back to those less fortunate,” said Amber Klimek, the Director of Operations and Community Relations for Chicago. “Passback gives our fans a chance to give back as well. When we believe something is important, we make it work – it is as simple as that.”
In addition to an e-blast to fans, the team utilized social media to help get the word out about its collection. Meghan Rapinoe, the team’s Passback spokesperson, also recorded a public service announcement that was distributed across the internet by the Red Stars and the Soccer Foundation.
The team ran a collection on two different days, both occurring prior to the start of a game. Klimek said the collection days themselves went very smoothly and were run by office interns.
Once the equipment was gathered, the Red Stars chose to donate it to America SCORES – Chicago, which the team works closely with on a regular basis.
After a successful first season, Klimek is already thinking about the Passback collection for the upcoming year.
“Our season may be extended, so we hope we can work with the Chicago Fire (MLS) on this program,” she said. “We would like to have back-to-back collection days for our fans if our games/collection days are on the same weekend.”
The Galaxy has consistently been in the tops of MLS Passback distributors. The secret to its success is that the team collects on a continual basis – a good model for all teams to follow!
“We at the Galaxy are proud to be a part of Passback,” said Stephanie Hillon, Senior Account Executive, Corporate Partnerships for the Galaxy. “We hope to continue reaching kids in local communities through this program.”
In addition to collecting year round, the Galaxy also holds specific collection days prior to the start of games to actively engage its fan base. These game-day collections are staffed by OCA International – one of the Galaxy’s three Passback recipients.
Sports Gift Inc., and LA SCORES are the other two groups that receive Passback equipment from the team.
“Kids take great pride in pulling a uniform over their heads,” said David Joseph, Executive Director LA SCORES. “They enjoy taking the field looking like a team. And few things can do more to boost a child’s confidence than pulling the laces tight across a nice pair of soccer cleats.”
After each collection, the Galaxy redistributes the equipment to one of the three groups. The team gives away the gear in just a 48-hour span, making an immediate impact on children in the LA community.
“LA SCORES is extremely fortunate to have been recipients of MLS Passback donations for the past several years,” said Joseph. “The LA Galaxy’s Passback program, led by Stephanie Hillon, has helped ensure that all the kids in our program have complete uniform sets and topnotch equipment.”
Thanks to the Red Stars and Galaxy, more children are able to reap the health and mental benefits of the game of soccer. Learn how you can get involved in the Foundation’s Passback Program visit www.passback.org.