Moorestown student ‘plays’ it forward

Elliana Albert’s bat mitzvah project serves student athletes.

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: William Allen Middle School student Elliana Albert collects donated sports equipment for her bat mitzvah project, Play it Forward. All items can be dropped off in the bin shown above at 725 Jamie Drive.

William Allen Middle School student Elliana Albert is donating sports equipment to kids in need for her bat mitzvah.

According to the United Jewish Federation, synagogues require children to perform either hands-on projects or help raise funds for individual causes in preparation for the bar/bat mitzvah.

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Albert is collecting gently used gear such as bats, balls, shoes and helmets through June 30, an idea she came up with after playing soccer against a team that didn’t have the proper equipment or didn’t understand how to play.

“I just thought that was really sad how we have all this stuff,” Albert said. “We came in (in) this giant bus, and we (had) bags full of soccer balls and equipment, and they didn’t know how to play the sport,” she recalled. “And on top of all that, they didn’t have the equipment for it.”

“My idea was to help kids who cannot afford sports equipment (who) would like to play sports, which they probably can’t since they couldn’t afford it.”

Donated items can be dropped off in a bin labeled Play it Forward at 725 Jamie Drive.

Albert’s mother Elaine noted that a decision on where to donate the equipment has yet to be made, but local schools and recreational programs are under consideration. She encourages people who know of any specific schools or programs in need to reach out at

“A lot of our equipment, people take for granted that it still has a lot of value to it,” Elaine noted. “And other people could use it. And to me, it makes so much more sense to give it to people that can’t afford it.”

“They will value it so much more than somebody that can go out and buy it themselves.”

Elliana explained that part of her project is to incorporate Tikkun Olam, Hebrew for “repair the world.” According to, the term is synonymous with the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice. Tikkun Olam can also refer to “repairs” performed on an individual level.

“It means to repair the world, to help people that are not as fortunate as you and to … just anything that’s like bumps in the road that are easy or really simple to patch up that you can,” she said.

Elaine said her daughter’s project may continue after it ends on June 30.

“We have said to her multiple times that if this turns out to be a great event that we might turn this into something that we do … Maybe we’ll do it for fall sports and then we’ll do it for spring sports,” she said.

“A lot of times, people … start cleaning out their equipment right around when they’re entering a certain season for the sport,” Elaine added. “If this is something that the community is really loving and wants to really embrace, we are definitely open for continuing it.”

Elliana noted what she hopes they take away from her project.

“We have flyers that we pass out during sports games, and I pass them out in my Hebrew school, so then people can get the word about it,” the middle schooler noted.

“People can (achieve) their dreams, but most people have setbacks and they can’t control that, so we want to help that as much as possible.”

Items can be dropped off anytime and information will be posted daily on the Play it Forward Facebook page.

Elaine is grateful for the community’s support.

“The people that we have come in contact with think it’s an amazing idea … “ she said. “It’s like a win-win.”

“They get to clear their garages and they get to help people out at the same time.”

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