WEST WINDSOR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Imagine playing soccer with no shoes.
As CBS News’ Meg Oliver reported, it happens in poor countries all over the world. But a soccer-loving family in West Windsor, New Jersey decided to do something about it.
For kids in Haiti, soccer is a way of life. Erick Noel, 18, had played for a decade barefoot in gravel and grass until this summer.
Boxes full of 1,000 used cleats arrived from America, giving kids in Haiti their first chance to play in shoes.
The generous idea came to light more than 1,000 miles away in New Jersey. Every week, the Grescek family holds board meetings with cheese pizza around their kitchen table.
Fourteen hardworking cousins – ages 8 to 17 – started a charity collecting used cleats for needy kids a year ago.
To set themselves apart, 1KCleats4Kids set a lofty goal of 1,000 pairs of cleats for kids in Haiti.
“We wanted to push the kids, and said, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to go for something really big,” said Jerry Grescek of 1KCleats4Kids.
It did not take long before the colorful cleats poured in. Social media sparked interest from across the country.
“We were just collecting cleats by the day, and it started to grow every day,” said Gavin Grescek of 1KCleats4Kids.
Then, two nonprofits volunteered to pack up and ship all the cleats to Haiti.
“It’s all about kids helping kids,” said Jerry Grescek. “I tell my kids all the time, just imagine when you see their smiles – because for us, that’s going to be our closing moment.”
It was moment that Erick Noel summed up thusly in French: “I think it’s a beautiful gesture and I think God is happy and will bless them.”
The family has set a new goal of collecting 2,000 pairs of cleats. They plan to distribute them to needy children within the U.S.