A crowd of over one thousand people gathered at the school assembly, but the principal called on twenty middle school students to stand.
These students––members of a basketball club started by Beaverton Foursquare for Somali refugees––raised funds to help men and women facing homelessness.
“The kids had no idea how much money they had raised,” shared Marty Voge, volunteer coach for the students.
Missions Pastor, Mark Nicklas stood up and announced, “These young people raised $3,500!”
Jaws dropped and the room broke into applause. “They were so proud of themselves,” said Marty.
How did they do it?
A couple years ago, Marty was talking to one of the boys, Abdullah. “It came out that his favorite sport is basketball, which was always my favorite sport,” said Marty.
“What if we play basketball one night a week?” Marty asked. “You get a bunch of your friends and we just start playing basketball?”
The idea caught on and became a weekly tradition. The students showed up to play. Marty showed up play.
“It was fun to watch the relational piece develop, you know, this old guy playing with a bunch of young Somali refugees,” Marty said with a smile.
Marty has a huge heart for ministry–both locally and globally. A retired educator, he often travels to India to equip and encourage teachers. He is actively involved in his church and he can also be found faithfully volunteering at Portland Rescue Mission.
Back in the spring, Marty said to the students, “You’re getting a lot of benefits out of this [weekly basketball]. What if we did something for somebody else?”
“They wanted to know a little more about homelessness, and one thing led to another. We said, ‘Well, why don’t we do a fundraiser?’”
The students loved the idea. Sponsors were rounded up to pledge money for them to play basketball for six hours. They raised money for socks––a much needed item at the Mission. Recently, the students came by the Burnside Shelter to deliver the boxes of the socks they played hard for – 3,900 pairs.
“It was sad seeing people walking who have no socks. We wanted to help,” said one of the boys delivering socks.
“Its changed my perspective on things a lot, because it made me realize not everyone has everything,” said Destiny, one of the girls.
Even after playing a game for six hours straight, the students still love basketball, so much so that the church is building a basketball court in their complex!
“I went over there the other day, just to look at the dimensions and one of the kids saw me. He ran up to me with this huge grin on his face,” said Marty. “He gave me this great big bear hug.”
It feels good to play basketball. It feels good to give to someone in need. And it feels good to have a clean, dry pair of socks on your feet.
We are so grateful.