Ridgefield students collect $10,000 worth of sports equipment for Stamford kids’ Christmas gifts

RIDGEFIELD — Families in Stamford got extra gifts to put under the tree this week as a donation drive organized by two Ridgefield High School students came to a close.

For the past month, juniors Will Hanna, 16, and Justin Keller, 17, solicited new and gently-used sports equipment from the community to benefit the Saint Joseph’s Parenting Center in Stamford. The donations were given to struggling families to use as gifts for their children during the holiday season.

The drive was started by former Ridgefield High School student Johnny Briody, who now plays baseball at Tufts University. Hanna and Keller have played sports together since elementary school.

“(Briody) told us about it earlier this fall,” Hanna said in an earlier interview. “It sounded like a great opportunity, so we wanted to jump on it.”

Keller acknowledged that these families may not have the means to buy a glove or a basketball for their own children around the holidays. Giving them an avenue to do so was the goal, he said.

“Giving that chance (to play sports) to people who may not be able to get it is humbling,” Hanna added.

The teens set up boxes near the front entrances of Tiger Sports and the Ridgefield Recreation Center to accept donations and also made pickup accommodations. The drive collected almost 200 pieces of sports equipment amounting to about $10,000, Hanna said.

Hanna noted two local families that were “very generous” in supporting the drive.

The Yuens, who own Tiger Sports, donated the store’s leftover equipment, which accounted for almost half of the total donations, Keller said.

“We were coached in baseball last year by Jackie Yuen, so we have a good relationship,” he added. “When we reached out to use them as a donation site … they were all in on supporting (us).”

The Rosenfield family bought 20 footballs, 20 basketballs, 20 soccer balls and about 40 ball pumps from Tiger Sports to donate to the drive. The family founded the Max Michael Rosenfield Foundation in honor of their late son. The organization gets involved in causes that mirror what Max was all about: spreading good will and love to everyone he met.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to know them for years,” Hanna said of the Rosenfields. “Their goal is to … give back to the community through the love of sports their son had.

“We want to say thank you to the community and anybody who donated,” he continued. “The support we received is what makes Ridgefield such a great town.”