For adults, whose shoe sizes don’t change much after purchasing a pair of cleats, it doesn’t matter that they only use cleats once a week for two months a year.
For children, who sometimes outgrow a pair of cleats before the season is over, it is different.
The cleats may get used for 8-12 weeks before being shelved for the next season only to find out that they no longer fit. They are sometimes passed down to siblings or friends, but more often than not they are left to clog up shoe shelves, garage floors and toy boxes.
With prices ranging anywhere from $6 for a cheap pair of children’s soccer cleats at Walmart to $329.99 or a top-end pair of golf cleats at Dick’s Sporting Goods, that could be one expensive pile of clutter.
For Abigail Schreiber, a 14-year-old Brookings resident, and her family cleats have become something of a pet project.
They’ve assembled cleats that were donated to the Brookings-Harbor Shoe Exchange and are trying to find them new homes.
“We started with 100-200 pairs of cleats,” Abigail said, “and we’ve got every size from a size-13 children’s to a mens’ size-14.”
This is the second go-round with cleats for the Schreiber family, the first time they did an exchange was with the Brookings-Harbor Youth Soccer League.
“It was a couple of years ago,” Abigail explained. “The shoe exchange donated all the cleats and we tried to get them out.”
Now the Schreibers volunteer with the shoe exchange, sorting shoes and trying to find homes for the more unique pairs.
“Most of the time it’s me and my mom,” Abigail said. “But sometimes my brother Peter will help out sorting shoes and volunteering time.”
For Abigail it was simply a matter of seeing a need — 12 boxes of cleats taking up space — and trying to get them into the hands of people who can use them.
“They were just building up at the shoe exchange,” she said. “Occasionally people would come in and get some, but we would get just as many donations. They were taking up space and with soccer coming we knew people would need cleats.
“It was easier to bring the cleats back here and have people come to our home and spread the word. It just seemed to get the word out better.”
While Abigail hasn’t seen the making of a Disney-esque move with someone receiving a pair of free cleats and then becoming a sports star, she has seen the joy that shoes can bring to the lives of children.
“One girl wanted a pair of shoes and she was so happy when she got them,” she explained. “The girl was so happy that she and her brother were racing around in their new shoes.
“It makes it worth it when you see that or when you see kids happy with their new cleats to play soccer in.”
The Schreiber’s efforts aren’t limited to just Brookings-Harbor either.
“A bunch of kids from Mexico are coming to the United States with a missions leader to play in a baseball league,” Abigail said. “We’re going to send a bunch to them so they have cleats to be able to play.”
They’ve also got plans to take some to the men’s soccer league that plays every Sunday at La Joya Market in Smith River.
While the program is called the Shoe Exchange, Linda Schreiber is quick to point out that one need not bring shoes in order to take shoes.
“The exchange is not based on economic need,” she explained. “It is called being thrifty. We just ask that when you have extra shoes, outgrown shoes, shoes no longer needed and they are in good shape; donate back to us.”
The cleats are free to anyone who needs them and most of the pairs are in close to mint condition.
The Schreibers hope to find homes for all the cleats before soccer season begins.
“There are so many and it would be really cool to see them all distributed,” Abigail said. “It’s all fun but once you’ve seen some cleats, you’ve seen a lot of cleats. It would be good to know that they are all distributed.”