It took one article in ESPN magazine around the time of the World Cup to inspire Patrick Hardtke to dedicate his Eagle Scout service project to the kids in Haitian orphanages.
"The article was talking about all the nations that have kids that were just playing soccer and they didn't have anything to play with," said Hardtke, 15, of Oak Hill. "They were playing in like sandals and they tied together pieces of tape and stuff. I saw one about Haiti and they had just had the earthquake, so I thought it would mean a lot to them if I collected stuff and sent it to them."
Hardtke, teaming up with the charitable arm of D.C. United and the Nicole Megaloudis Foundation, has been collecting new or slightly used soccer uniforms, cleats, balls, gloves and other equipment along with monetary donations. The proceeds of the collection will be sent to Haiti and distributed to area orphanages.
The Oakton High sophomore has set up collection booths three times, twice at Herndon Youth Soccer games and once at an Oakton High girls soccer game, and had so far collected a few boxes full of shirts, about 25 cleats and several soccer balls.
His next equipment drive will take place at today's Oakton High girls soccer game at 7 p.m. against Chantilly High. The Cougars are also hosting Youth Soccer Appreciation Night tonight, and youth soccer players wearing their game jersey will get in free with a paying adult. Those who bring equipment will be entered into a door prize drawing during the varsity game.
Hardtke, who plays on Oakton's junior varsity team, has set a goal of "whatever I can get" and plans a few more equipment drives at youth and club games this summer.