Kids sports are fun but expensive.
Getting all the equipment you need for the baseball season — metal bat, glove, pants, batting gloves and cleats — can cost $200 to $350. And that’s if you don’t go crazy and spend $280 on just a bat.
Lacrosse is worse: A stick, pads, gloves, helmet and cleats can go from $300 to more than $500.
Those price tags keep too many kids from playing sports. That’s where Leveling the Playing Field comes in. LPF is a nonprofit organization in Silver Spring, Maryland, that collects used sports equipment and distributes it free to schools and sports programs with needy or disabled kids around Washington and Baltimore.
“We’re like a food bank for sports equipment,” LPF Director of Operations Maitlyn Healy recently told me.
Max Levitt, who grew up playing baseball and hockey in Bethesda, started LPF in 2013.
“I never was the best player,” Levitt recalls, “but I loved sports.”
Levitt went to Syracuse University, where he majored in sports management and was the equipment manager for the football team. At the end of every season, he says, the team would “clear the shelves” and throw away millions of dollars’ worth of football equipment.
Levitt, 28, later worked in county sports departments where he saw “hundreds of bats” and other equipment going unused, “still in their plastic wrappers.”
Levitt thought that this was a waste of money and that someone could use all that gear. He also remembered that when he was growing up, his family would have piles of clothes and other things to donate to local charities.
“There was no pile for sports equipment,” Levitt remembers.
So he started LPF. At first, it was slow going. “I was working out of my parents’ basement,” Levitt says with a smile.
Now LPF has a warehouse stacked with big cardboard boxes containing equipment for all sorts of sports: baseball, lacrosse, hockey, tennis, soccer and more.
“We take equipment for any team sport,” Healy says.
Levitt estimates that LPF has given out more than $2 million in equipment to more than 400 sports programs and schools in the past four years. That means LPF has helped thousands of kids play the games they love.
So if you and your family are cleaning out your bedroom or basement this spring and find sports equipment you don’t need, donate it to LPF. Ninety percent of donations to the organization come from individuals. Or even better, get all your teammates to donate their extra sports stuff.
Levitt and the folks at LPF will know what to do with it.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 22 sports books for kids. His latest book — “Outside Shot” — has just been published.