Since we are now officially in the month of giving thanks, we thought we’d take this opportunity to cast the spotlight on some amazing organizations that are really trying to move the needle when it comes to raising healthy and happy kids. Our first subject is Melissa Rundlett, partnership coordinator at Good Sports, a national nonprofit that donates sporting goods equipment, footwear, and apparel to kids across the country since 2003.
LISTEN to our podcast interview with Meet Melissa Rundlett, partnership coordinator at Good Sports
Backyard Sports Cares: Give us an overview of what Good Sports is. What do you do?
Melissa Rundlett: Good Sports is a national nonprofit, and we donate sporting goods equipment, footwear, and apparel to kids across the country, and we’ve been in service since 2003. Actually, this month, the month of November, we are turning 15, so we’re really excited. And, obviously, over the last 15 years, we’ve done some amazing work, and we’re excited to keep it going.
BYSC: What kind of sports equipment do you donate, and how do you get all this equipment?
MR: We try to donate all kinds of sports equipment. We actually have a warehouse full of donated inventory received from equipment manufacturers, such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Reebok. You name it, we’ve probably gotten a donation from them. They send the equipment to us and then we’re able to donate it out to recipients in programs and schools that we work with throughout the country. We’ve actually touched all 50 states, which is amazing, and we don’t target just one sport or one program or just schools in just one city. We try to impact and touch all kinds of programs and schools all across the country, whether it’s soccer, football, or basketball. We try to cover them all.
BYSC: That’s terrific. Just so people are clear, you’re running the programs through community organizations and schools predominantly, right?
MR: Yeah. We actually have an application system, so we encourage schools and organizations alike to apply to our Good Sports grant. If approved, the organization would be in that grant for two years, and they would have access to our inventory that has the equipment from the Nikes, the Under Armours, etc. They’re able to create a cart on our website with all their items, and then they’re able to submit that cart, which then becomes an equipment request, which then comes over to us, and we’re able to fill it and work through that donation with those programs to hopefully get everything that they need.
BYSC: I know Backyard Sports Cares has recently been the beneficiary of some equipment. Talk about the relationship there. I know that we just participated in an event with Good Sports and Keurig-Dr. Pepper, which is very exciting.
MR: It is very exciting. As you mentioned, Keurig-Dr. Pepper, they’re one of our largest supporters, and they select five of their facilities throughout the country per year. They picked Elmsford, New York, this year, which was our pick and final Pick-Pack-Play of 2018. Once the facility is selected, we get on the phone with the branch manager and the district manager, and we ask them to nominate local organizations or schools or programs in that area just because they know the area way better than we do. They’re in the community. Their kids or nieces, nephews, whatever, may attend those programs or schools. The branch manager in Elmsford nominated Backyard Sports Cares to be a part of this program to receive equipment. Once they nominated that program, I did the background work, and I reached out to Danny Bernstein, executive director, BYSC, and checked out their program, and encouraged them to apply. They did and subsequently received a substantial equipment donation for their sports activity programs.
The Keurig-Dr. Pepper Elmsford Pick-Pack-Play event took place last weekend, October 27th. BYSC should have received all the equipment by now and hopefully, your athletes are making use of it as we speak.
BYSC: Thank you so much for that, Melissa. It’s wonderful. Talk a little bit about your long-term mission. What is it? At your core, what do you hope to change?
MR: The Good Sports mission is to give all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing them with the new equipment, apparel, footwear, to the most in need. That’s our overall mission, and our mission is to bring that forward to organizations and schools and programs all across the country. Currently, what’s happening is a lot of kids have to pay to play and pay to purchase sports equipment. We want to give all kids the opportunity to play sports and be active and have that experience because there are so many benefits of being active and playing sports. You learn teamwork and collaboration and leadership and communication, all these great things. We want to give them the opportunity to gear up and to eliminate the barriers by working with our partners in the sporting goods industry and just eliminate the high costs that are associated with playing sports.
BYSC: The democratization of sports — we share that mission. If there was one really important message that you want people to know about your organization or how they can get involved, what might that be?
MR: I think the most important message we want people to know is that with the incredible support of so many corporations, foundations, equipment partners, individual donors, volunteers and more, we supported a massive amount of children. However, our work is far from complete, and we think, together, we can continue to work to eliminate those barriers to play and get all kids in the game. So far, we’ve supported over five million kids across the country. Like I mentioned, we’ve impacted all 50 states. We’ve donated more than 34 million dollars worth of equipment, brand new equipment. But there are still so many kids that have those barriers, that keep them from playing, and we want to remove those barriers.
BYSC: In terms of getting involved, if a mom is watching this right now and says, “Hey, this would be awesome for my school,” what does she do?
MR: She can go to our website. It’s www.goodsports.org, and check it out, browse through, and look for our application link. Parents or anyone can submit an application for their school or community organization. Once the program or school is approved, they are eligible to receive donations for two years, which amounts to six sports equipment donations or three per year.