‘Opportunity On Deck,’ Waukee High School Students Giving Kids Free Sports Gifts

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WAUKEE, Iowa -- Every year Opportunity on Deck provides free athletic opportunities for central Iowa kids. Around the holidays the nonprofit takes its mission one step further giving away free athletic gear and shoes, and it’s possible thanks to help from Waukee High School Students.

The Waukee High School students are lucky enough to gain real-world experience in the classroom at their Innovation and Learning Center. Students who are in a course involving sports-related fields are helping Opportunity on Deck give to those who are facing adversity.

“We're specifically focusing on those kids who maybe had a little bit of difficulty this year or overcame some challenges and that's really who these gifts are for,” Dylan DeClerck, the director of Opportunity on Deck said. “Someone who may not get a gift under their Christmas tree or have just gone through something significant this year.”

The high school students helped plan a holiday MVP event. Thirty-five kids who were nominated for the gifts will come together Saturday to be able to hang out and be recognized with brand new athletic shoes, from cleats to ballet slippers, and even extra athletic gear.

“For them to come up, for them to get that applause, for them to be recognized by everyone else, and get some cool new shoes on top of that, that's about the best feeling you can have,” DeClerck said.

The students who helped make this all possible say seeing the work that goes into event planning but also witnessing the reward of helping those who otherwise would be without, is eye-opening.

“Sports is very important to me and I'm very involved in that so seeing kids who aren't traditionally involved in them or may not have access to them are getting things like that, it just means a lot to me because it means they are also getting an opportunity they wouldn't have gotten,” Radhika Sharma, junior Waukee APEX student said.

“Athletics have played a big role in my life and just thinking that kids won't have that opportunity to have that sense of community, to have that team effort, it hit close to home and know that I could help them in that way made we want to get involved,” Salisa Hauber said.

The event is Saturday starting at 6 p.m. at South Middle School in Waukee. These gifts are also possible thanks to the Andrew Giving Fund.

The nomination form for students receiving the MVP gift is already closed. however, DeClerck said they are always looking for volunteers. For more information click here.

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