This past year, the (SELCRA) had to order new soccer uniforms to replace the previous ones — even though they were only 4 years old.
SELCRA Administrative Supervisor Cheryl Royster said it was because the supplier could not get the material to match the older uniforms.
"You come into a new season, and you only need about 300 to 400 more; he can't manufacture that many, so we had to go with a new style," Royster explained. "We're always looking for someone to use them. We don't want to just throw them out. But the problem is the shipping. We can't afford to ship them because it costs between $30 and $40 to ship 50 uniforms."
That's where Commerce Township resident Mark Mangune came in. Mangune is the founder of Soccer Aid for Hope — a project dedicated to sending quality used soccer equipment to the Philippines. Mangune was conducting his second soccer equipment drive at the Powerade Invitational Soccer Tournament last August to send to the Payatas Football Club in the Manila, the island nation's capital.
The first equipment drive was during the Jaguar Invitational Tournament in Novi last May. That equipment went to the Tambayan Center for Children's Rights in Davao City in the Philippines.
"He took about 100 small sizes," Royster said.
Mangune said he shipped four boxes filled with soccer equipment Oct. 8 for about $300. It arrived in the Philippines on Dec. 19.
The Payatas Football Club team was formed last February in Manila, one of the poorest areas and the site of the largest dumpsite in the country. The children don't have much equipment and often use chairs or children's flip-flops for goals, according to Mangune.
"I'm originally from the Philippines, and soccer is a big passion of mine," Mangune said. "Probably in the last year and a half, soccer has really picked up in the Philippines. I think the problem over there is just that there's limited resources. They don't have a lot of equipment. Kids don't have soccer balls. The conditions just aren't very good.
"So I just had the idea that maybe I could help out in that regard and send over soccer balls, cleats and jerseys," he said.
Mangune said he will send another shipment — three boxes — of SELCRA uniforms to a public high school in Masbate in the Philippines next week.
Royster said SELCRA is always looking to donate uniforms and that this year, baseball and softball uniforms will be available to anyone interested.