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Two teen lacrosse players score goal in fight against hunger

Owen Estee and Zach Appel found a way to both teach the sport that they love and help feed people in need when their lacrosse season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two teenage lacrosse players in the San Francisco Bay Area launched “Lacrosse Against Hunger,” an initiative where they coach kids and other teens in exchange for donations to a local food organization. So far, the 15-year-olds have raised more than $2,000 to provide over 2,000 meals for agencies that serve the homeless, as well as foster youth, low-income seniors, children and their families.

“This is a really big, problematic time, where people are in need. Everything’s just a little harder these days,” Appel said. “Helping people out by doing the little things, just like donating a few thousand bucks that can raise actually quite a few meals, really is helpful.”

The Acalanes High School students teach young lacrosse players the basics of the sport for $25 a lesson while observing Contra Costa County health guidelines. They practice social distancing, limit how many train at a time and wear masks when entering and exiting the field.

“It’s such an amazing feeling,” Estee said. “I’ve had parents tell me that their kids call it the highlight of their summer. ... It’s something they look forward to every week.”

Through a GoFund me page, they then donate all the money to the White Pony Express, which delivers surplus food from grocers to local community groups that serve the hungry.

“Our aspiration is that we serve without thought of reward. And that’s exactly what Zach and Owen did,” said Eve Birge, executive director at White Pony Express.

“Our deliveries are now three times as big as they were before COVID, so Zach and Owen are helping us keep our doors open.”

During the pandemic, a wave of hunger has swamped food programs nationwide. At White Pony Express, most of the volunteers during the crisis have been teenagers, Birge said. “Young people are really stepping up to answer the call. And Zach and Owen are terrific example of that.”


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