Collecting used soccer cleats and balls to send to a Liberian soccer academy in need of equipment is one thing. But learning how people come forward to help with a worthy cause may be the most valuable lesson Geneva freshman Sydney Smith has learned.
The 15-year-old Smith has spearheaded the equipment drive twice now as part of her "Choose to Matter" service project at the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy in Oak Brook she has attended the past two summers.
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A soccer player since she was 5 years old, Smith learned through her camp about how young players in Liberia have no access to soccer gear.
"It was explained as a service project we could do, so I decided I wanted to do it," Smith said. "Once I started telling people what I was doing, they were all really willing to help."
Smith received help from her Campton United Soccer Club, from Geneva High School, and her church, Geneva Lutheran.
Smith intends to ship the gear to Liberia in March. At this point, she's collected 120 donated soccer balls and 90 pairs of soccer cleats.
By comparison, last year she sent 26 pairs of used cleats, which were being shared by more than 200 children at the Uhuru Football Academy in Liberia. She was determined to send more pairs to cut down on the sharing.
At an upcoming Soccer Expo '12 tournament on March 10 in Schaumburg, Smith will have 55-gallon donation drums for players to drop off used equipment.
Sydney's mother, Jeannette, has been proud of her daughter's desire to help those in need. But she's also pleased her daughter has learned a valuable lesson about how others will follow a strong leader.
"She was really surprised about how everyone came forward to help her," Jeannette said of her daughter. "It is nice for her to feel that, knowing there are no walls put up and your pool of resources can be limitless when you are doing something good."
For her effort, Sydney can earn a trip to the London 2012 Olympics if she gets enough votes for her project. Those interested in voting can visit the Julie Foudy website and the "Choose to Matter" projects and vote for Smith's project titled, "Causes for Freedom."
Even more Paris: A week after mentioning the Chez Moi Café was bringing a bit of Paris into downtown Geneva, Park Place Interiors is adding to that fanciful notion.
Owner Kathleen Newhouse said the cafe will provide the food samples during the first Paris Trunk Show from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 26 at Park Place Interiors, 407 S. Third St.
"I was so inspired on a recent designer's trip to Paris that I wanted to bring the same feel to my store," Newhouse said. When she read my item last week about Chez Moi Café, she was quick to alert me about the role the cafe will play at her event.
A simple wager: Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.
Which will come first?
Some new development at Charlestowne Mall because of special business district incentives?
A new owner for the Mill Race Inn property in Geneva?
Or the opening of the Golden Corral restaurant in Batavia?
Nothing much is happening at any of the above, so the betting lines are wide open.
Key month downtown: Downtown merchants tend to target February as a month to hit shoppers with promotions. Shoppers in Geneva have a chance to sign up for prizes at various stores through the entire month as part of a "Fall in Love with Downtown Geneva" promotion. In addition, Little Traveler has been sending out word it will offer entertainment during leap year night Feb. 29 in a promotion for "a cool night out in downtown Geneva."
St. Charles restaurants are participating in St. Charles Restaurant Week through Thursday for special deals. It was a popular event last year, and restaurant owners are hoping for good returns again this year.
Bizarre email tales: The sport of hacking into a personal email account appears to be alive and well. Yet, it shows hackers don't always think out their scams.
It was pretty apparent something was amiss when I received an email from St. Charles architect Mike Dixon, who is serving for the Peace Corps in Ukraine. In this fake email, "Mike" was telling me he got mugged while on vacation in the Philippines and needed money sent to him. First, Peace Corps folks don't go on "vacations." Second, who would go to Manila, anyway? Third, Mike wouldn't need to send out a mass email seeking funds.
The next day, I received another bogus email, this one supposedly from Geneva School Board member Mary Stith. This particular "Mary" was telling me she was stuck in Madrid, Spain, and needed funds sent. First, I just happened to see the real Mary the night before at the "Dancing With the Geneva Stars" event. There was no indication she was heading off to Madrid after the show. Second, Mary would know better than to ask a journalist for money.