Columbus High sophomore Peter Gonzalez has been playing soccer most of his life — starting when he was 4 or 5.
He plays club soccer for the Coral Gables Youth Center Toros and is on the Columbus junior varsity team. So it’s no surprise that Gonzalez’s community service project revolves around soccer.
One day last summer Gonzalez looked in his closet and found an old pair of cleats.
“I was going to throw them away and then I thought further and thought I’d donate them to charity,” he said.
But after additional thought, he decided he wanted to do more than donate one pair of cleats.
“I felt if I donated them, I wouldn’t know where they were going,” he said. “If I dealt with them myself, then I could know these cleats are going here and know the result.”
He teamed up with a friend from another soccer club to collect the cleats. They started with friends and club members.
“I started collecting around the time when the school year started,” he said. “It was just my club at first. I sent out an email and they brought cleats to practice.”
To date, 120 pairs of cleats have been donated to towns whose kids who love to play soccer.
“I’ve sent them Kasai, Africa,” Gonzalez said. “It went to this village. My mom has a friend who was going there anyway. She took about 70 pairs.”
Another 50 pairs went to Colombia with a teammate’s dad.
The project is ongoing. There is a website (www.PlayertoPlayer.org) and collection bins at the Coral Gables Youth Center and Soccer Locker. In fact, Gonzalez recently picked up a bin from Soccer Locker with 35-40 pairs of cleats. His teammates continue to give.
Gonzalez hopes to send the next group of shoes to Haiti but is still working on the details. He is trying to get the shoes to Haiti without having to incur shipping expenses.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld