What does soccer, Christmas trees and a small nation in Africa have in common? For one Lake Stevens family – a lot!
Matt Raney, 37, the patriarch of the Raney family, is the Director of Adventure Soccer, which is a non-profit, Christian organization that teaches character and confidence through skill based soccer training.
“We do this through a series of skill stations, bible lessons on team play and sportsmanship, and practical training of these concepts,” Raney said. “We are currently in our seventh year of camps.”
After a Christian missionary contacted Raney and explained to him the HIV/AIDS crisis in Swaziland, Africa where the life expectancy is only 32-years-old and the small country is brimming with orphans, Raney decided to pray about what to do.
“A Christian missionary contacted us about the crisis in Swaziland and asked if we would help through our organization,” Raney said. “He was familiar with what we were doing locally and felt that soccer could be used as a vessel to help kids in need in Swaziland as well. After much thought and prayer, we decided to act on it and the push began to make it happen.”
In comes the Christmas trees.
Raney and his wife Kymm decided to turn their yard into a Christmas tree lot to raise funds for a mission to Swaziland in January and again next summer.
“In August, we plan to offer free day camps in 12 locations throughout the country including soccer training, food, clothing and teaching the message of abstinence. We will be working with our Christian missionaries in these areas to minister to the huge number of orphans in this nation,” Raney explained.
The Adventure Soccer camps have been their fundraisers in the past but with the extra costs of travel and supplies, additional fundraising was needed to be able to complete the trips they are planning.
“We will still be running our summer camps in Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Sultan, Lynnwood and Everett as fundraisers. To date, our El Paraiso Mexican night has been our only event (it was in November) in addition to the Trees For Swaziland sale, which raised $2,000. The Mexican night raised $3,200 in four hours of serving food at the restaurant in Snohomish,” Raney said.
The outpouring of support, both financially and emotionally, has been overwhelming but their hope is that all of the hard work will pay off in the small African nation the Raneys will be visiting next year.
“The most difficult task is getting the word out to the public that we are a trustworthy vessel for people to offer help. Word of mouth has been our greatest tool,” Raney said. “We are so very excited to have been blessed with this opportunity to help. We think we have the best of both worlds...the opportunity to impact and grow our kids locally through our camps, and an opportunity to help children in need on the other side of the globe. It truly is a gift to be able to live out our faith in this way.”
If you would like to help the Raneys in their endeavor, contact Matt Raney at Adventure Soccer, 360-568-1256 or visit their website at www.adventuresoccer.org.