On his way home after having his lacrosse stick restrung earlier this summer, 11-year-old Jack Sample thought about the hundreds of dollars lacrosse players and their parents spend on equipment. Then he thought about just how many kids out there likely couldn't afford to play his favorite sport.
So he pitched an idea to his father: He would do some extra chores around the house to raise the money to buy new equipment for kids who couldn't afford it.
Bursting with both pride and surprise, John Sample nearly drove off the road.
"Almost immediately, he also said, 'Maybe I can get my friends to do it, too.' He's a really mature kid. He's very aware for an 11-year-old, and very compassionate," John said. "He loves lacrosse, and I think he just wants to share his passion with kids who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity."
After some Internet research, Jack found Winners Lacrosse, a nonprofit that uses lacrosse as a vehicle to teach life skills to kids in underserved neighborhoods.
"We're donating to an organization that helps more than 5,000 kids. That's a ton! I just think it's great," Jack said. "I'm sure there are a lot of kids who don't even know lacrosse exists."
He then brought the idea to his Vienna Youth Inc. team, and his teammates agreed to support his efforts by also buying new equipment for the organization. VYI advertised the cause on their website, and the Samples created a Facebook page, Vienna Lax 4 Winners, to promote their efforts beyond Jack's team. The Facebook page now boasts more than 60 fans, about half of whom the Samples do not know personally.
Last month, Jack and his younger sister Julia raised $100 in two hours manning a lemonade stand in Miller Heights, attracting supporters throughout the Oakton-Vienna area rather than just neighbors who drove by.
"I thought it was a neat lesson for Jack to learn, about how other people and other kids would want to be involved," John said.
Between 4 and 7 p.m. Aug. 29, Jack will collect the new equipment his friends and supporters bought, along with gently used equipment some newcomers to the movement have offered. They will host a party in the driveway of their Kilkeel Court home in Oakton to make the dropoff more of a celebration of everyone's efforts.
"I really think lacrosse is just an awesome sport. It's like soccer, everybody really loves soccer, with elements of football and hockey. It's just this amazing game that I know the people of the Vienna area and all over America have fallen in love with," Jack said. "Then there's people who can't play lacrosse just because they don't have the money. It's just really sad. I want to give everyone a chance to know how it feels to play this amazing game."