One boy's love of sports inspired him to help other children play.
"I was looking for an opportunity to give back what I have," said Spencer Martin, a sixth-grader at St. Paul Catholic School.
Spencer, 12, with the help of his mother, Angela Martin, is collecting sports equipment to donate to the Westerville Area Resource Ministry's Kids Lunch Club Program.
At school, Spencer was assigned to write a report about someone who made a difference in another person's life. Since sports have made an impact on his life, he said, he turned to the sporting world for help with his assignment.
After doing some research, he discovered a college student who collected soccer equipment to send to Africa as part of a service project. Inspired by his work, Spencer and his mother began brainstorming ways they could give back to their own community.
"We really wanted to impact the community we live in. We started thinking, 'How can we collect from Westerville and give back to Westerville?' " Martin said.
Though Spencer has collected canned goods for Boy Scout food drives, he said this collection is different since he can see the impact directly.
"I learned to give back, and this is going to be bigger than we did before," Spencer said.
The Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM) helps families by offering short-term assistance, educational resources and spiritual support during hardships. Its summer Kids Lunch Club Program provides nutritious meals to children who typically rely on school lunches.
Martin said she and Spencer wanted to donate equipment to the program because its volunteers instruct children how to play different sports and coordinate games that promote exercise and physical activity.
Jackie Haight, coordinator of the Kids Lunch Club, said it's a huge blessing to receive the donated equipment.
"I think the coolest thing is that he is collecting all this equipment and it is benefitting the kids in his own community," Haight said. "A lot of kids may not have access to the equipment. What a great gift to be able to participate in activities they might not otherwise have been able to do."
St. Paul Athletic Association donated some baseball equipment to Spencer's collection drive. Martin said other local organizations call about donating equipment, too, and all of it makes a difference.
"What (the program) has found is that whenever a ball is introduced at the park during these programs, the kids just go nuts," Martin said. "You wouldn't think that (when) somebody shows up with a basketball that everyone engages in that activity, but that's exactly what happens."
Haight said she is impressed by Spencer's leadership and ambition to take on such a project at a young age and she is grateful for his and Martin's work.
"It's so generous of them," Haight said. "Not only the time, but everything that goes into it."
Donations can be made from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 29, and May 3 at St. Paul Catholic School, 61 Moss Road.
Kids Lunch Club runs Monday through Friday from May 27 to Aug. 8.