During this past soccer season at Southwest Minnesota Christian High School, the team participated in a fundraiser for a mission called New Roots Haiti. New Roots is a mission outreach program in the northern part of Haiti, near Cap Haitian, run by Nick and Nikki Stolberg. Their mission statement reads: "We are dedicated to empowering parents to care for the needs of their families through education, employment and nutrition assistance."

New Roots does this through several avenues. The main they are working in Haiti is through the running of a farm, feed mill and butcher shop and — lastly — a soccer program. Currently, the soccer program consists of 165 children ranging in ages of 7-12, both boys and girls along with several coaches. Besides just playing soccer, at the end of each practice, there is a 15-25 minute lesson discussing health, nutrition, HIV, gender discrimination and a snack, and a Bible study will be incorporated soon. The program has grown tremendously in the recent year, going from 60 to 165 children involved and several other villages.

Finding other teams to play has been a problem in the past, but according to the New Roots Facebook page, "Word is beginning to spread about our soccer program. We have recently been approached by five neighboring villages asking if we will start teams for their youth."

Last April, a group of 11 from Edgerton — eight high school kids from SWMCH and three adults — traveled to Cap Haitian, Haiti, to work at an orphanage called Children of the Promise. Although Children of the Promise and New Roots are not connected per se, the meat that was provided to us during our stay was raised, butchered. packaged and delivered from New Roots. That's where I met Nikck Stolberg. After doing some more research on New Roots, the Lord put on my heart to do something during the next soccer season.

After starting to formulate a plan and getting permission from New Roots and Southwest Christian to do this fundraiser, things really fell into place. It became obvious that the Lord was leading us on this journey when Matt Vande Kamp, athletic director at Southwest, talked about serving others at the summer co-curricular meeting. It was very exciting to be able to leave that meeting and immediately discuss how we are going to serve others during the soccer season.

The fundraiser was really very simple to implement and track. The way I set the fundraiser up was that the players had forms and asked for pledges based on how many goals we scored during the varsity season. For example, if we scored 17 goals this season, if somebody pledged $10/goal, they would owe $170. We had several people who just gave a straight donation and that was very much appreciated, but pledging by goals scored gave the players something to strive for. Instead of just playing the game, we were to benefit the children of Haiti through New Roots and to score as many goals as possible. New Roots also gave us permission to use its logo for our shirts and sweatshirts, and the theme "Two Teams/One Goal" was born.

During the season, I found out that Nick Stolberg, the founder of New Roots, was going to be in Chandler for an evening, and we had the pleasure of having Nick meet directly with the players and a group of parents. It was awesome to be able to connect the kids with New Roots.

When the season was all wrapped up, we had raised $3,810 that will go directly to the New Roots soccer program and help with their operating expenses. This amount will directly fund the program for four months, according to Nikki Stolberg.

We are so thankful to be able to take part in this fundraiser and hope this money will make an impact in the lives of the children in the soccer program at New Roots. If you would like to know more about the New Roots program, please check them out and follow them on Facebook, New Roots Haiti, or you can go their website at www.newrootshaiti.org.