Emory’s women’s soccer team is raising money for Reclaim Childhood for every goal they score. (Lin Yu/Contributing Photographer)

Emory University women’s soccer has kicked off their season with 38 goals scored through their first month of play. While any goal is exciting, these particular goals have served a greater purpose than just bringing the team to a 7-2-1 record. Each raises money for Reclaim Childhood, a nonprofit organization in Jordan that aims to provide a safe community for young girls to play sports and work with coaches. 

Reclaim Childhood began in 2008 as a summer camp to support displaced Iraqi youth. Since then, the organization has opened year-round programs and has focused on the refugee crisis in Jordan, where more than 750,000 citizens of neighboring nations seek refuge. Jordanian cities are often segregated by nationality, so Reclaim Childhood unites Jordanian citizens and refugees in after school programs, leadership programs, summer camps and coaches clinics. 

The team provides two ways to donate to their fundraiser: direct donations or pledges for donations per goal to be paid at the end of the season. As of Oct. 4, the team has raised $804 in direct donations. 

Junior defender Peyton Robertson and senior defender Tierney Lanter, who have worked with Reclaim Childhood during their Emory soccer careers, and are in charge of organizing the fundraiser. Robertson and Lanter acknowledged the positive impact that sports had on their upbringings. Knowing how much sports means to them makes the purpose even greater.

“Sports provided a unique environment for us to grow up in, to have role models, and it’s important to us to be able to give that to other girls around the world,” Robertson said.

Women’s soccer has fundraised for Reclaim Childhood since Lanter was a freshman, and the team has high hopes for their fundraiser this year. Players reached out to family members, soccer alumnus and other members of the Emory community to secure donation pledges.

“Usually we raise between $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the year,” Lanter said. 

The team is again on track to hit those benchmarks once the goal donations are added.

While the team has a relatively normal season this year, women’s soccer had to be creative last year with their fundraising events. 

“With COVID-19, we had to make up some cool things to raise money for Reclaim Childhood,” Lanter said. “One of the cool things we did was a turkey trot, and we raised over $1,000.”

The team hopes to continue fundraising after the season; Robertson specifically wants to get spring athletic teams involved and brainstorm other ways to raise money. Last year’s turkey trot sparked interest in hosting additional fundraising events outside of soccer games. 

For women’s soccer, spring is a transition period where the team focuses on bringing younger members up to fundraising leadership positions as older team members prepare to graduate. The hope is that these younger players will continue to grow the cause and reach other Emory sports teams. In the past, the team has coordinated with the basketball and tennis teams for donation events, such as donations per three-point shot.

While growing leadership skills is a main focus, Lanter and her teammates also plan to find new ways to engage with the community.

“Emory women’s soccer wants to get involved and help any community they can, so when we get that opportunity, we’re super stoked to help anyone out,” Lanter said.

Reclaim Childhood is a chartered nonprofit at Emory, so anyone can participate in fundraising. Robertson and Lanter are optimistic that the soccer team can involve the greater Emory community with the organization by the spring.

To pledge or donate directly to Reclaim Childhood, you can use this link to help support the Emory women’s soccer initiative to provide adequate donations in hopes of supporting young girls in Jordan.

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Jenna Daly (she/her) (25C) is from Windsor Locks, Connecticut, majoring in philosophy, politics and law on a pre-law track. Outside of the Wheel, she is on Emory’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams. In her free time, Jenna enjoys hiking, playing Spikeball and reading science fiction novels.