In HearSway

Last month, Pinecrest senior Jade Neptune picked up her cap and gown in a drive-thru distribution line enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Then, she drove on to her next destination, a contactless pick-up of gently used sports equipment donated to The Gap Project.

In the year and a half since Jade started this equipment drive, The Gap Project has amassed items for nearly every sport in a school-age kid’s resume: lacrosse sticks, football pads, shin guards, baseball bats, dance costumes — even scooters and weightlifting equipment.

“The response has been absolutely amazing,” Jade says. “It’s such a cool feeling to have people reach out to me about a little project I started in my living room. Even people in the community that don’t have any equipment to donate are reaching out to ask how they can help.”

Jade in one of her ballet costumes | TheGapProject2020.com

How it Started

Jade and her brother were active kids, participating in ballet, golf, and other activities that put a strain on their parents’ wallets.

“In my family, we were taught that nothing was ever out of reach. It was never a ‘no,’ it was a ‘no, for now,’ with a promise to figure out how to make it work,” she says. “I wanted to do my part to help other students have that same experience.”

So, she started the Gap Project — named after a goal to erase the gap between high- and low-income students by making sports more affordable through donations of equipment, or funds. She built a website. And support started flooding in.

Some of the donated equipment | @thegapproject2020

How it Stands

Today, the garage and spare bedroom in Jade’s home is “overflowing” with equipment. Some of them came from donation boxes inside The Ice Cream Parlor and Coldwell Banker Advantage, businesses who have partnered with The Gap Project. But the bulk of donations are items unearthed by quarantined residents focusing nervous energy on a garage or attic clean-out.

The Gap Project’s newest initiative is a partnership with The First Tee of the Sandhills, a Stay-at-Home Equipment Drive. The First Tee has offered to help collect and redistribute equipment once social distancing restrictions are lifted.

But Jade is more than willing to fill her mom’s SUV with sports equipment, collected from driveways and porches across the county.

“The Gap Project has been there for me to lean on. It’s been really great to be able to channel all my heartbreak and negative energy about what’s going on in the world into something good.

“It’s such a dark time, and it’s been really exciting to see how people are working to do something positive and bring the light back in.”

To learn more, visit TheGapProject2020.com or email thegapproject2020@gmail.com.

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