It's a fairly common sight: kids of all ages and sizes wearing team jerseys from their recreational sports leagues, usually with the name of a team sponsor on the back.
But this year, instead of putting the name of a business on team jerseys, the Mount Pleasant Youth Soccer Association decided to teach kids about giving back. So each team is wearing the name of a charity.
Patricia and Jeff Haynes lead the Mount Pleasant Youth Soccer Association. Patricia is the president, but when she has to be away serving in the military, Jeff, as one of the league directors, stands in for his wife. They saw an opportunity to raise awareness of some excellent charities, simply by placing their names on kids' soccer jerseys.
A former police officer in Concord, Jeff Haynes now operates his own home inspection business. Years ago he began making donations to charities on behalf of his clients. He's done a lot of careful research to find good and cost-effective charities. Most of the ones supported by the youth soccer league are the same ones Jeff has donated to over the years.
Some very familiar names are among the soccer league's charities: Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Toys for Tots, Make a Wish Foundation and the USO. But there also are some lesser-known causes, such as the Lupus Foundation, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Hide & Seek Foundation. There also is a local charity: the CVAN Battered Women's Program.
To help raise money for these charities, the league has been selling T-shirts and wrist bands at all home games in Mount Pleasant.
The team Jeff Haynes coaches has been raising money in a different way. Jeff's team is in the division for 13- to 15-year-olds, and only one girl is on the team. Before the season even began, that team decided they wanted to be the Breast Cancer Foundation Research team and wear pink jerseys.
Coach Jeff warned them that they might face some teasing for their pink uniforms, but the team insisted and backed up their decision with great soccer.
In support, Jeff promised he would donate $10 for every goal his team scored. The Breast Cancer Foundation Research team is currently undefeated, and Jeff Haynes' "bill" is up to $600.
Patricia and Jeff Haynes haven't set any kind of fundraising goals along with this idea of promoting charities. They simply believe kids can learn important life lessons from playing sports, and one of them is about giving back and being there for people in difficult times.
If you'd like to know more about the charities supported by Mount Pleasant Youth Soccer, or to register your child to play, go to the league website: www.mpysa.com.