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One of the things I really like about my role at Second Serve is that I get to tell stories about the great work our team members do. I was one the first to learn about Ariel Madatali and Sahana Madala donating tennis equipment to the children in India, and about Lauryn Tu creating a summer program to teach refugees tennis and provide them with a safe space for the summer. After a while, just writing and editing these stories was not enough—so I decided to follow these great examples and run a donation drive myself. 


The first thing I had to figure out was where to donate. After searching the internet I found BYTE (Border Youth Tennis Exchange). BYTE is a cross-border youth development organization that offers tennis as well as academic classes on both sides of the border. This organization spoke to me because my grandparents are from both Texas and Mexico.


Once I found where to donate I had to figure out how to get the equipment. Fortunately, the tennis club I belong to was happy to help out and gave me permission to hold an equipment drive there. So I did just that. I got a large box for members to drop in equipment and made signs advertising the drive and the mission of Second Serve. I assumed that in a week, I’d have a box overflowing with rackets, bags, and shoes.


I was wrong.


The first week, every day after school I would go to the club and check the box, hoping that today would be the day I would find it full of equipment. But for the first few days, the only equipment in the box were items that I had put in to kick off the drive. My dreams of helping BYTE and making a real impact through tennis seemed to be vanishing. But I wasn’t ready to give up. So I moved the signage and collection boxes to more visible and trafficked areas of the club. I also asked the front desk workers if they could help by talking about and promoting the donation drive. I wasn’t sure how much of a difference these changes would make, but the next time I went to the club, the box was overflowing with equipment. By the end of the drive, my garage was full of donated gear.


Now I had to sort it all. Some equipment was good, some bad. The bad I tossed and the good I kept. In total, I collected 24 good-quality rackets, 10 pairs of new shoes, 10 tennis bags, and an assortment of gently used clothes. I wrapped all of the rackets with fresh grips, a tedious process, but well worth it. Lastly, I filled two large boxes with all the equipment and mailed them off to BYTE. 


I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I saw the last box get picked up. A few days later, I heard from Charlie Cutler, the executive director of BYTE, that the equipment had been received and distributed. And now more kids are getting a chance to play the game we all love. 


Running a Second Serve donation drive was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever taken on. If you’ve been wondering about organizing a donation drive, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth the effort. And if you do conduct an equipment drive, let me know—I’d love to tell your story.

By Diego Núñez

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