Sports

Patriots' epic loss is super for Federal Way's World Vision

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

The New England Patriots’ “almost” unbeaten season will be remembered fondly in New York, as well as places like Nicaragua, Romania, and several other third-world countries.

Through a partnership between the NFL and Federal Way-based World Vision, millions of dollars worth of “New England Patriots: 2008 World Champions” licensed Reebok apparel will bring joy to families in extreme poverty.

It has become common practice by Reebok, the official supplier of the NFL, to print up thousands of Super Bowl champion shirts and hats for both teams before the game. And when the New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, 17-14, the New England Patriots gear was no longer needed.

Since 1994, World Vision has accepted hundreds of official shirts and caps immediately following football’s biggest event. Instead of being destroyed, the losing team’s shirts and caps are shipped from the Super Bowl host city to World Vision’s Gifts-in-Kind Distribution Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, they are sorted and added to shipments of other goods requested by World Vision field staff in various countries. Once through customs in the destination country, World Vision workers distribute the apparel to children and families in need, many of whom have never owned new clothing in their lives.

“The NFL and its partners entrust these goods to World Vision because our distribution system and long-term presence in impoverished communities make us a reliable bridge to those in greatest need,” said Richard Stearns, World Vision president. “We offer a tax-deductible, eco-friendly business solution that brings joy to children and families. And due to the number of countries in which we work and how we can spread out the donations, these quantities are not enough to disrupt or undermine local economies.”

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide.

“World Vision helps us to ensure that no NFL apparel goes to waste,” said David Krichavsky, NFL Director of Community Relations. “We are pleased to find a good home for clothing by getting it to those who need it most.”

Additionally, World Vision receives and distributes playoff contender apparel that is unsalable in the United States and is donated by retailers and manufacturers. These donations include shirts, hats, sweatshirts and other clothing of teams that advance but are eliminated in the playoffs. In 2007, the combined value of goods donated by Reebok, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the Sports Authority was approximately $2.5 million.

After last year’s Super Bowl between the winning Indianapolis Colts and losing Chicago Bears, a significant portion of the Bears’ apparel was distributed in Zambia in southern Africa. Other countries receiving Bears’ shirts included Chad, Chile, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Romania, and Zimbabwe.

World Vision also receives counterfeit NFL team apparel through its work with United States Customs. The program began in 1991 at the Storehouse of World Vision through a donation of confiscated goods from Los Angeles Customs. World Vision disburses confiscated goods and official, licensed apparel only in pre-approved, developing nations.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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