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United Futbol Academy team collects toys for ailing tots
More than 200 items donated to Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta
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Forsyth County News

Young people sometimes shift into an “I want” mode during the holidays. United Futbol Academy encouraged its soccer players to shift into an “I want to give” mode.

The local soccer club demonstrated its philosophy this holiday season by collecting presents for children undergoing medical treatment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“We like to encourage our players to think of others,” said Don Schultz, United FA president. “In developing skills for life, we do what we can to support our teams and their families as they give back to the community.”

The United FA ‘01 Brazil team stepped into action upon hearing about the number of children who would not be home for Christmas while receiving treatment at the Atlanta hospital.

Many of the young patients’ families were also facing huge financial costs associated with their care, leaving little money for presents.

Team Brazil collected over 200 new presents for boys and girls during United FA tournaments in November. Last Monday, the girls donned their uniforms and delivered the presents to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“The girls were awarded outstanding volunteer medals,” said Lysa Gazza, a team mother. “We were also told ‘donations like this are what makes CHOA/Scottish Rite so special.’”

The visit made such an impression on the young ladies that they plan  to do it again next year.

In October, the United FA ’99 girl’s team and their families participated in the third annual Lily’s Run at Vickery Village.  Players helped raise money to grant wishes for local children that are in the “fight of their lives” against childhood cancer.

But it’s not just the girl’s teams that are getting in on the giving spirit. 

Brandon Ebert, a United FA alumni and now a referee in the league, traveled to Uganda last summer to work at an orphanage outside Kampala.

Soccer was a great connecting point between Ebert’s group and the orphans.

“Soccer is a great way for outsiders to connect with the orphans,” Ebert said. “Playing soccer with them opens doors to conversations and letting them know you really care. Everyone plays soccer.”

Ebert will not be able to return to Kampala this summer, but the orphans are still on his mind. He is working with United FA leadership to collect soccer balls and spare uniforms. The group returning to Uganda will deliver them to the children.

Part of the delivery will be 14 soccer balls donated by a 12-year-old United FA player who wants to remain anonymous. For her birthday, she told her friends to just bring her a new soccer ball.  Then she gave them all away.

“As a child, you look forward to all the presents you get at your party,” Ebert said.

“I was amazed that she gave everything she got to people she doesn’t even know ... and that she didn’t even want the credit. She just wanted to give.”