Good Sports is a proud partner in Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Let’s Play initiative. Let’s Play provides the tools, resources and inspiration to make play a daily priority. As a tenet of the partnership, Dr Pepper Snapple facilities host volunteer experiences called Pick-Pack-Play Days at their warehouses. Good Sports and the facility identify donation recipients and plan the event for months. On event day, Dr Pepper Snapple employees, family members, and community partners pick and pack sports equipment for distribution to youth-serving organizations in their region. Since 2014 there have been 12 DPS Pick-Pack-Play Days (the 13th is slated for September 2017). A total of $748,635 has been donated via these employee engagement events.
The last box of brand new sports equipment was whisked away and stored in the back of a Let’s Play truck. The vehicle was fully loaded with $50,000 in gear and supplies to be distributed to three local organizations: The Spokane Police Activities League (PAL), Boys & Girls Club of Spokane County, and the YMCA’s of the Inland Northwest. $50,000 of new equipment means increased physical activity for thousands of kids – and in this case, an increase in a less measurable, but equally important quality: hope.
The story really began that morning, when a lively and gregarious group of volunteers packed 2,597 pieces of equipment into over 80 boxes. After a solid morning of work, the Dr Pepper Snapple volunteers and their family members filed into the warehouse break room for a well-deserved lunch. Once the crowd had settled into their seats, Spokane County Police Sergeant Glenn Bartlett stepped into the spotlight to explain why this donation included so much more than the physical equipment.
“This donation will have an innumerable impact in our youth engagement activities,” said Sgt. Bartlett. “We have made tremendous strides in this area and the sports equipment will further cement our bond with youth.”
“I could stand up here all day and give you stories. Our anti-crime unit was hauling someone away on multiple warrants the other day and a bunch of kids approached them. They asked officers if they would join their basketball game. That would not happen five years ago.”
As Sergeant Bartlett wrapped up his heartfelt speech, a cavalry of his colleagues entered stage left. Amongst the contingent was Pastor Shon Davis. Pastor Davis is a respected Spokane community leader and plays an active role in the police department’s outreach efforts.
“This program is making an impact because of the history behind the mistrust between law enforcement and especially kids of color,” said Pastor Davis. “It is generational. The kids we are working with have not had a personal encounter but rather views are passed down from their elders.”
“When they tune into the news and hop on social media, it validates those opinions. It turns from a perception into a reality. We want them to have their personal experience and look past the uniform. When they play sports with the officers, they begin to see them as a person. The officer is humanized. They are not judged with a broad brush. Now the officers are referred to as a coach and mentor.”
“The targeted youth we are working with come from low-income families and impoverished communities. Whenever you are giving back to that type of community it instills hope. It gives inspiration that somebody believes in us. Somebody cares about us. With this equipment, kids will believe they can overcome barriers and attain dreams.”
The crowd applauded, and then broke into smaller group discussions about what sports had brought to their own lives. Conversations were interrupted by a loud crash of a door, then a burst of a diesel engine. The noise radiated through the room and chatter. The delivery truck of equipment was departing; hope was en route.