My Everton #138: To The World Via St Luke's

KitAid recently reached one million pieces of kit donated around the world - and Everton’s links with the charity date back to 2014.

John Mulcahy, a lifelong Blue, was only 47 when he died 10 years ago, and his parents kindly gifted his collection of 23 Everton shirts to KitAid, a charity who donates used and new surplus shirts to teams across the world.

Each year, they recycle around 15 tonnes of unwanted kit which, otherwise, might have gone to landfill. John’s shirts went to a group of young lads in Malawi who renamed their team as Mulcahy’s Young Soccer in his honour.

The EFC Heritage Society got involved, and consequently, a donation station was set up at the Society’s exhibition space, upstairs at St Luke’s Church Hall, before Everton’s home games.

It was slow in the beginning, but with help from Everton in the Community and the marketing team at Everton, we started to see an increase in donations.

The Club, over the past four or five years, has been tremendous on it. I would say, on average, we get at least 500 pieces of kit each summer off the Club itself. The fans keep on coming every game, dropping off kits of all different colours. To the benefactors, it’s not just a football kit – it’s a piece of clothing that they don’t have.

We’ve gone on to support football teams around Africa. We’ve been working with a charity Yerry Mina has been involved with, collecting football boots to go to South America. KitAid have also recently worked with SportsReach, who, in February, donated Everton kits in Kenya, visiting Nairobi, as well as the Lugari District.

In recent weeks, I’ve collected about 150 items to go to the Tropical School of Medicine. I’ve got a contact there who is going to send kits from Liverpool and Everton to a Namibian tribe, whose kids are going to play a derby game.

The main thing is it’s about the smile and enjoyment we give to people across the world.

We have tonnes of boxes in storage, ready to go, and we’ve also got racks of single kits that we sell and then send money to KitAid because they do need cash.

The Club has really supported us – I can’t fault them.  Anything and everything of Everton that we can get our hands on, we can use by making money for KitAid and for our own projects.

Ultimately, we help the Club and the supporters to clear out their cupboards and their drawers! All the stuff that may not have monetary value to the Club and the fans, it definitely has a major human value to people in Africa and South America.

Fans can donate at St Luke’s every matchday. We’re open three hours before kick-off, so we’ll be there for the rest of this season, and all of next season, until we find a new home after the stadium switch.

We take any sports kit. It can be football, cricket, rugby, running – anything like that, and any sort of training gear. It all benefits the people in these countries.

By Richie Gillham, Evertonian and member of the Everton Heritage Society

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