Trying to level the playing field, three sports-loving South Windsor teenagers are collecting used equipment to outfit their counterparts in Hartford.
Quinn Cavanaugh, 15, Aidan Walsh and Sean Habeeb, both 14, launched Equipment Assist and gathered their first donations in March. The trio reported pulling in about 300 pieces of gear, including ice hockey skates, baseball bats and gloves, basketballs and cleats, along with a $200 donation.
They gave the cleaned equipment to the Hartford Police Athletic League, which offers a variety of sports programs. PAL Athletic Director Jon Esmail said the donations “may be the piece or pieces of equipment that changes the whole trajectory of a child or a group of children in our program.”
The boys came up with the idea as a way to meet community service hours at their schools. Habeeb is a freshman at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford, where he plays basketball and baseball; Walsh, a freshman at South Windsor High School, runs cross country and plays basketball and volleyball; and Cavanaugh is a freshman at East Catholic High School, where he plays football, hockey and baseball. Service hours also are required at Saint Junípero Serra Parish in South Windsor, where the three attend church.
“There was a lot of sports equipment piling up in my garage that I just didn’t use any longer,” Cavanaugh said. “And my mom kept saying she needed to get rid of it. So I thought there’s probably some kids out there that could use it; It didn’t seem right to throw it out.
“And then the idea just kind of expanded,” he said. “We all thought that maybe we could find more gear from neighbors, clean it up and find out if there were kids who might want it.”
“It kind of spiraled,” Quinn’s mother, Lynne Cavanaugh, said. “They just kept getting excited and getting more ideas.”
The boys made posters for their schools and posted notices on community Facebook pages to spread the word about their first pick-up on March 27. They also placed collection bins in their schools. Lynne Cavanaugh and the moms of the other two boys drove the trio around for their first collection.
“We didn’t know what we would get for donations, and we were kind of worried if anybody was really paying attention to our outreach,” said Walsh, who spent March 27 with Cavanaugh and Habeeb traveling to about 15 homes to collect donated gear.
“But then requests for pick-ups started coming in on Facebook,” he said, “and the bins at our schools were getting some drops. We were very grateful that others saw this was a worthy cause like we did.”
“It’s a good feeling,” Habeeb said, “to think that this free gear might help kids get excited to try a sport or help kids who are already playing have the right shoes or not worry if they don’t have skates, or a bat or a glove.”
Esmail said the donations are much needed and much appreciated. Offering academic programs and play in basketball, boxing, baseball, softball, cricket, yoga, hockey, football and golf, the organization runs on donations and grants, he said. Esmail said he was deeply impressed with the South Windsor trio.
Equipment Assist is set to run another pickup drive on April 17 in the South Windsor area. The boys say they also will accept donations on a rolling basis. They have now worked well beyond the requirements of their community service hours, Lynne Cavanaugh said, and plan to keep the program going through their high school years and then pass it down to their siblings.
Send email to EquipmentAssistSW@gmail.com to be added to the April 17 pick-up list or to coordinate a separate pick-up.
Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org