Max Levitt has a simple goal: He wants Leveling the Playing Field, his nonprofit organization, to become a household name. Its mission is to get gently used sports equipment into the hands of underprivileged children. Though based in Maryland, the Leveling the Playing Field Executive Director partners with organizations throughout the country. Recently, his agency arranged a three-on-three basketball tournament between local youth and members of the Wake Forest University basketball team. “The smiles on the kids’ faces were priceless,” Levitt said.
He used the event as a chance to gather used sports equipment for local agencies such as The Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, the Ken Carlson Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, Youth Opportunities and recreational centers. “We collected over 1,000 pieces of sporting equipment from a variety of sources,” Levitt said. “Some of our biggest donors were Calvary Baptist, Summit School and Soccer Unlimited.”
Levitt began his organization two years ago after working three seasons with the Syracuse University football team as an equipment manager, for three summers with the Washington Redskins, and with the recreation department of a Washington, D.C., suburb. “I noticed that at each destination we were throwing away a huge amount of sporting equipment,” Levitt said. “I couldn’t think of an organization that existed to funnel this equipment to communities and children that desperately need it.”
Levitt is a realist. He understands that communities—including many in Forsyth County—comprise, in effect, two communities: the haves and the have-nots. For many children, sports equipment just piles up before it’s ultimately thrown away. Meanwhile, kids who would give their eye teeth for that equipment don’t have it. Sports-equipment donations won’t just give kids a chance to learn the fundamentals of football, basketball and soccer. They’ll learn teamwork, participation, and leadership. They’ll funnel their youthful vigor into healthy competition.
Obviously, not all those kids deprived of athletic equipment will turn to other, less savory, pastimes, but kids have a lot of energy. If it’s not funneled into positive pursuits, then many of these children living in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods will be confronted with plenty of negative opportunities.
For that matter, Levitt hopes his organization will allow nonprofits to re-allocate their expenses. Nonprofits tend not to be flush with cash. And if the Ken Carlson Boys & Girls Club, for example, doesn’t need to apportion part of its budget for sports equipment, then it frees up the funds to be used for tutors, homework help, psychological services and other necessary programs.
Levitt has done his research. He pointed to the fact that children who participate in athletics are 60 percent less likely to drop out of school than those who stay on the sidelines. He noted that underprivileged youth are three times less likely to participate in sports than their “have” peers. One reason for that is they simply don’t have access to rudimentary equipment: soccer balls, pads, bats, sticks, etc.
The equipment netted by the recent sports equipment drive will do immeasurable good, Levitt believes. “We are excited about putting sporting equipment in the hands of children who are not fortunate enough to afford their own,” he said. “These kids love to participate in athletics, but up to this point, they have not had the proper equipment to facilitate this. This donation is going to go a long way for these kids.”
To learn how you or your organization can help Leveling the Playing Field get used sports equipment to underprivileged youth in our community, call Max Levitt at (301) 801-0738 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Levitt’s organization, visit www.levelingtheplayingfield.org.