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'We did not expect it to take off': Learn how a nonprofit is getting youth athletes on the field

Leveling the Playing Field
Leveling the Playing Field

The Eagles will take the field in Detroit on Sunday, but players spent the beginning of the week supporting a city-wide movement to get youth athletes on a field of their own.

Leveling the Playing Field landed in Philadelphia in November 2021, and in 10 months has experienced smashing success.

"We did not expect it to take off in the way that it did," said Danielle Miller, Program Director of Leveling the Playing Field Philadelphia. "Obviously, it's a tremendous surprise in the best way possible. It really, really proves that there's so much need and support, and so much equipment that is sitting in people's garages or their basements waiting for people to come and use it."

LPF's mission is to get kids off the sidelines and onto the playing field by providing access to equipment. The donations are housed at a distribution center in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania where families, coaches, athletic directors, program directors, and representatives can pick up whatever their kids need.

"The Eagles were actually one of the main reasons that we were able to expand to Philadelphia," Miller reflected. "Without not only their financial support, but also their incredible branding, history, following, fans – everything that surrounds the Philadelphia Eagles and football in Philly – was one of the main reasons we were able to expand here and build so, so, so quickly."

Eagles players not only delivered a truckload of donations, but they also worked in the warehouse to organize and take inventory of newly donated items.

"Sports have been a huge part of my life and the fact that money is sometimes a huge burden for some people and the reason why kids don't play sports is a tough reality," said tight end Jack Stoll.

Eagles participated in an event benefiting Leveling The Playing Field, an organization dedicated to providing donated sports equipment to young athletes who need it.

Just how much success has LPF had in Philadelphia? Miller reports that since last November, they've collected $800,000 worth of sports equipment and distributed $315,000 worth back into the community.

In addition, 163 programs have applied for access, and 101 have visited the warehouse.

"It has been nonstop, truly in the best way," Miller said. "The metrics we had internally placed for ourselves, we had already met by May."

Linebacker T.J. Edwards says "it takes all of us," when it comes to supporting the youth in the community and providing them with all the resources necessary to succeed.

"You go in there and see all the equipment you could ask for. It's really tough to get some of those things," Edwards said. "So to have a distribution center like this is really cool. I hope it keeps spreading and keeps getting bigger."

In addition to sports equipment, Miller said approximately 50% of the people who apply are teachers. There is a really robust playground section that includes hula hoops, cones, pinnies, jump ropes, and kickballs.

Miller said these items fly off the shelves because teachers need these supplies for their classrooms and simply don't have the resources to provide them.

"There has been so much positive feedback, so much positive support," Miller said. "Not only are we distributing the equipment, but we also need to continue collecting equipment."

The goal now is to make even more of an impact than they already have – meet more kids, provide more equipment to more programs, and keep kids off the sidelines.

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