VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community.
So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.
Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This new monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.
To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.
VIDEO: Santa Barbara Sports Drive
Matt Wagonhurst was rummaging through his closet one day and came across a pair of baseball cleats he hadn’t worn for a long time.
A basketball player at Santa Barbara High, he’d hung up the cleats. But they were in good condition — too good to throw out.
“I wanted to donate them but I wasn’t sure they would go to someone who would actually use them,” Wagonhurst recalled.
That’s when the idea of the Santa Barbara Sports Drive was born.
Wagonhurst is the founder of the SB Sports Drive, a non-profit program run by high school students, that collects usable used sports equipment and clothing, cleans it up and distributes it to children of low-income families. The organization plans a day in the spring for families to come by the Boys and Girls Club and select items for the kids.
For all his hard work and service to the community, Wagonhurst is being named the Presidio Sports’ local Sports Volunteer of the Month. This award is made possible by Pacific Western Bank.
Once the idea was hatched, Wagonhurst ran with it. He asked friends if they had any sporting goods lying around to donate. He met with Kim Kjar, his club basketball coach and freshman coach at Santa Barbara High, and the athletic director of the Downtown Boys and Girls Club, and inquired about donating the items to the club.
“During that time, we were practicing at the Boys and Girls Club, and Matt had some basketballs and sports equipment he wanted to donate to the club,” Kjar said. “He went a step further and got some of his buddies to gather up their used sporting goods and bring it together and donate it to the club. With the help of all the other guys, they brought enough stuff together to fill the gym at the club.”
Wagonhurst and Co. – notably Elijah Bittleston and Eddie Conk – then took the effort all over town.
Bittleston, Conk, Wagonhurst, Nicky Von Weinsenberger, Cody Henderson, Peter Ghersen, Mason Pereira, Andy Busch, Jr., Miles Waters, Brendan Fay, James Schuerman, Will Zimmerman, Kyle Mayfield, Penn Stussy, Jamie Morton, Logan Carmody, Teddy Rollins and Quincy Rhodes all get credit for being founding members.
“They put out boxes at different elementary, middle and high schools to collect all kinds of sporting goods,” Kjar said.
“The Sports Drive is a three step process: collection, cleaning, and redistribution,” explained Wagonhurst, a senior and a two-varsity player for the Dons. “During the winter seasons, the Sports Drive team, consisting of 40 high school kids, begin collecting Sports Equipment from willing donors throughout Santa Barbara County. During the spring, we clean and fix all the equipment. Finally, we host a one-day event in which low-income kids from all over Santa Barbara come out and receive free sports equipment of their choosing. The event has been successful for the past three years and we are gearing up for a fourth event this spring.”
The Sports Drive staff organized a system to distribute the sports equipment. They contacted agencies like Transition House, CASA (Court Appolnted Special Advocates for Children) and the Boys and Girls Club and gave them tickets to hand out to the kids. The kids trade the tickets for the sporting goods.
Wagonhurst said Sports Drive will take sports equipment in any condition and any size less than a kayak.
“If we can’t fix it, we make sure it gets recycled,” he added. “The clothing we receive is generally kid sized and the equipment and clothing is for kids, not adults.”
Kjar said soccer equipment was the most popular during the drive’s first year.
“They helped to get soccer balls, cleats and shin guards to many of the kids here at the Boys and Girls Club,” he said.
Wagonhurst said he his staff are touched when they see the reaction of the kids when they pick out their stuff.
“There is no way to describe the feeling that the Santa Barbara Sports Drive radiates to myself and all the members,” he said. “One moment that stands out to me is when I gave a girl her first bike. She was so excited and her entire family approached me with tears in their eyes, saying how truly grateful they were of the Sports Drive. That’s where the essence of our non-profit organization lies, in moments like that.”
Wagonhurst said the support the Sports Drive has received from the community “has been unbelievable. Over the past four years, we’ve had numerous local businesses sponsor us with everything from bicycle helmets to storage units for equipment.
“Overall, the community has been a huge factor for the Sports Drive’s success.”
Kjar has seen the program get better every year.
“It has grown to serve many kids here at the club, and Matt was one of the founders and continues to work to be the leader of the Sports Drive every year,” he said.
For more information on the SB Sports Drive, check out the web site, SBSportsDrive.com.