A girls’ pickleball group at the Goleta Valley Community Center recently raised $3,500 to provide shoes for children at the Goleta Boys and Girls Club. They also taught the children to play pickleball.
“I’m 64 and like most people, I was devastated by COVID, locked up and alone. I was invited to play pickleball and that’s where I met Lisa Gonzales and I ‘ve been invited to join their pickleball group,” said group member Cheri Spencer. “The Goleta Valley Community Center women’s group is special. There’s a group of about 10-15 women who play pickleball But there is a bigger community, I probably have about 55 contacts in my phone from pickleball.
The main Goleta Valley Community Center building is at the front while the Boys and Girls Club shares space at the back of the building.
“When I started playing pickleball, we noticed the boys and girls club kids coming and going,” Ms Spencer said. “We realized that we were in the children’s space. The space belongs to the community of the Goleta Valley. They share their home with us. We realized that we had to integrate the courts and we could start with the children. So we spoke to the principal and told him that we wanted to teach pickleball to the kids.
However, to play the game, children would need paddles and other equipment. This led to Ms Spencer phoning friends and posting to Facebook groups in a bid to deliver the sports supplies.
“People donated money or used paddles and we ended up with around 35-40 paddles. We told the kids the paddles and courts were theirs and we wanted to teach them how to play and the kids started picking it up. The ladies were good sportsmen and very patient and kind to the children,” Ms Spencer said.
But the ladies in the group didn’t stop at the sports equipment.
“One of the women in our group… had previously helped provide the children… with new shoes through an organization called Suitable shoes. Suitable shoes has links with brand name shoe suppliers. So we have set up a click and donate page. I messaged the people on my pickleball phone list again. It was a very popular effort. We raised about $3500, which is enough to buy about 80-90 pairs of shoes and socks. We bought about 70 pairs of shoes from the organization. It left them with some money to buy more shoes if they needed them,” Ms Spencer said.
The ladies distributed the shoes on Thursday to the children of the Boys and Girls Club. Each child received a pair of shoes and five pairs of Bombs socks.
“When I buy shoes for my children, it’s not an act of charity. It’s what people are supposed to do for their community and their families. You give them to all the children. No one is designated as being in need. We plan to do it again next year,” Ms Spencer said.
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