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Kicks for the Caribbean 'a way to give back' for Annapolis Valley soccer player


GRAND PRE - George Wade grew up playing soccer, with the Soccer Nova Scotia Regional Training Centre, then for Valley United and finally for Acadia’s varsity men’s team.

The game has given him a lot, and Wade sees Kicks for the Caribbean, the charity he recently founded, as a way of giving back.

The premise of Kicks for the Caribbean is for people to provide used cleats and other soccer equipment, which Wade donates to families in need throughout the Caribbean, in many cases making the deliveries himself as part of business trips.

The idea came to Wade during a trip to the Grenadines this past April. His family’s fireworks company “was hired to shoot a display on a private island. It turned out it was a child’s birthday party, and no expense was spared.”

When he returned to the mainland, “I saw kids with nothing, that had never even known electricity. I thought about a way I could give something back,” and he came up with Kicks for the Caribbean.

“I know the people here, and how generous they are. I realized it wasn’t going to be hard to do something that could touch the whole Caribbean.”

Since making the effort public in early June, “it’s kind of snowballed on me.” He has already collected enough gear to make a trip to Cuba with a donation.

“I just got back,” Wade said Aug. 14 of his trip. “It was an incredible experience on so many fronts.” Cuba, he said, “has a very interesting and historic culture,” but there is also, for a variety of reasons, a lot of poverty there.

He chose soccer for a couple of reasons, one being that it is the sport he knows the best. “I grew up playing soccer, and we were well enough off as a family that having the proper equipment wasn’t an issue.

“I’m sure people have closets full of perfectly good cleats and other equipment that has just been outgrown,” he said.

The idea has worked far beyond Wade’s initial expectations. “The response so far has been so encouraging. I first made it public in early June. I’ve already taken one shipment to Cuba, and I’m working on another one for Barbados at Christmastime.”

He pointed out, “the reason it’s been successful is that people appreciate the connection. I want it to go further. I want people to put their name inside the cleats they donate. Then after I’ve made the donation, I want to be able to put a photo of the recipient on social media, along with the name of the donor.”

The first shipment “has been given to Cuba, waiting for school to start, because the Cuban Ministry of Sport has taken on the distribution.

“I would have liked to have done it myself, but it was just too much,” and besides, “the Cubans themselves are the best ones to administer the system, because they know best where it can be put to the best use.”

He added, “I had planned it differently, but I learned a valuable lesson, that it’s really not about me, it’s about them.”

Ironically, parts of the Caribbean are popular vacation destinations for people from Canada. “When you think of the Caribbean you think of the wealthy places, which are the places we’re shown, and that are advertised.

“What we don’t see, and aren’t shown, is that there is a lot of poverty there. It’s unacceptable, given how much better off we are here, that we can’t reach out and help the less fortunate.”

Starting the charity, and especially making the actual trips, “has changed my views on a lot of things,” Wade said. “The charity is only getting started, and just scratching the surface, but I’m not hung up on it.”

At the same time, “I’d like to use it as a stepping stone, to maybe get into this line of work. Fireworks will always be my life, but there’s lots of room for other things.”

For more information on Kicks for the Caribbean, like the charity on Facebook at kicksforth3caribbean, or contact Wade at kicksforthecaribbean@gmail.com.

The game has given him a lot, and Wade sees Kicks for the Caribbean, the charity he recently founded, as a way of giving back.

The premise of Kicks for the Caribbean is for people to provide used cleats and other soccer equipment, which Wade donates to families in need throughout the Caribbean, in many cases making the deliveries himself as part of business trips.

The idea came to Wade during a trip to the Grenadines this past April. His family’s fireworks company “was hired to shoot a display on a private island. It turned out it was a child’s birthday party, and no expense was spared.”

When he returned to the mainland, “I saw kids with nothing, that had never even known electricity. I thought about a way I could give something back,” and he came up with Kicks for the Caribbean.

“I know the people here, and how generous they are. I realized it wasn’t going to be hard to do something that could touch the whole Caribbean.”

Since making the effort public in early June, “it’s kind of snowballed on me.” He has already collected enough gear to make a trip to Cuba with a donation.

“I just got back,” Wade said Aug. 14 of his trip. “It was an incredible experience on so many fronts.” Cuba, he said, “has a very interesting and historic culture,” but there is also, for a variety of reasons, a lot of poverty there.

He chose soccer for a couple of reasons, one being that it is the sport he knows the best. “I grew up playing soccer, and we were well enough off as a family that having the proper equipment wasn’t an issue.

“I’m sure people have closets full of perfectly good cleats and other equipment that has just been outgrown,” he said.

The idea has worked far beyond Wade’s initial expectations. “The response so far has been so encouraging. I first made it public in early June. I’ve already taken one shipment to Cuba, and I’m working on another one for Barbados at Christmastime.”

He pointed out, “the reason it’s been successful is that people appreciate the connection. I want it to go further. I want people to put their name inside the cleats they donate. Then after I’ve made the donation, I want to be able to put a photo of the recipient on social media, along with the name of the donor.”

The first shipment “has been given to Cuba, waiting for school to start, because the Cuban Ministry of Sport has taken on the distribution.

“I would have liked to have done it myself, but it was just too much,” and besides, “the Cubans themselves are the best ones to administer the system, because they know best where it can be put to the best use.”

He added, “I had planned it differently, but I learned a valuable lesson, that it’s really not about me, it’s about them.”

Ironically, parts of the Caribbean are popular vacation destinations for people from Canada. “When you think of the Caribbean you think of the wealthy places, which are the places we’re shown, and that are advertised.

“What we don’t see, and aren’t shown, is that there is a lot of poverty there. It’s unacceptable, given how much better off we are here, that we can’t reach out and help the less fortunate.”

Starting the charity, and especially making the actual trips, “has changed my views on a lot of things,” Wade said. “The charity is only getting started, and just scratching the surface, but I’m not hung up on it.”

At the same time, “I’d like to use it as a stepping stone, to maybe get into this line of work. Fireworks will always be my life, but there’s lots of room for other things.”

For more information on Kicks for the Caribbean, like the charity on Facebook at kicksforth3caribbean, or contact Wade at kicksforthecaribbean@gmail.com.

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