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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Student's project aims to even the playing field for less-fortunate athletes

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  • Three weeks of hard work paid off Monday when a local high school senior got to give back to her community.
    Jacey Kinnaird, a 17-year-old senior from Southside High School, has been collecting gently used sporting goods for weeks, in hopes of donating them to local athletes in need.
    Disparities among school-age athletes initially sparked Kinnaird’s interest.
    “I had run track and played soccer for a couple of years, and in doing so, I noticed that some kids had holes in their sneakers,” Kinnaird said. “I was thinking this problem can’t just be for certain individuals, it has to be from a larger group.”
    Later, at an Ernie Davis Scholarship informational session, Kinnaird found an outlet for her philanthropic idea.
    “I thought, ‘What better way to spread Ernie Davis’ message than to incorporate something he loved: athletics?’” Kinnaird said.
    Kinnaird began collecting sporting goods and athletic clothing from local high schools and community organizations, even making her own website to publicize the need for goods and the upcoming giveaway.
    “We got hundreds of visits on that website and we put bins outside of Southside and EFA; I put a collection bin at church, and Notre Dame participated,” Kinnaird said.
    As Kinnaird placed the sporting goods on the table at the Ernie Davis Community Center in Elmira, the scene of the giveaway, her mother, Paige Kinnaird, sat folding Ernie Davis informational booklets. Each athlete who came to Monday’s giveaway received a booklet.
    “I think it’s a wonderful project,” she said. “Not just for the project she’s applying for, but just to help people in the community. There are so many kids that can really benefit from this.”
    Kinnaird will use her giveaway project to apply for the Ernie Davis Scholarship through the Community Foundation of the Southern Tier. Open to all local high school seniors, the scholarship focuses on raising awareness about Ernie Davis and his life, and awards one student $12,000 for college.
    For Kinnaird, the scholarship isn’t the only reason to give back.
    “There was a deeper inspiration,” Kinnaird said. “I remember when I started running track I hard low self-esteem and confidence and it really helped me do so much more than be able to run a 6:20 mile.”
    Kinnaird says sports can help students grow not only as athletes, but also as people.
    “I was thinking of all of my friends who might not be economically stable that have missed out on that personal growth offered through athletics,” Kinnaird said. “I just really wish that was available to more people.”
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