Hope College football player Ethan Zimmerman is eager to tackle a local need to get athletic equipment into the hands of youth who don’t have it.

The senior from Niles, Michigan (Edwardsburg HS), has been a driving force behind the “First Steps in Sports” project that will be accepting donations this week during Hometown Week on campus. 

Fans can donate gently used sports equipment of any kind to four Hope Athletics events on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 19. They will be dispersed to local groups who work with youth. 

Items can be dropped off at either the Hope-Trine volleyball match on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse or the 7 p.m.Hope-Alma men’s soccer match at Van Andel Soccer Stadium. 

Fans also can bring donations Saturday to either the Hope-Olivet women’s soccer match at noon at Van Andel Soccer Stadium or the 1 p.m. Hope-Concordia, Wisconsin football game at Smith Stadium. 

Zimmerman, who plays defensive back for the Flying Dutchmen, started “First Steps in Sports” back in his hometown during high school. 

Zimmerman is excited to see his project expand to Hope College. 

“I was heavily involved in Big Brothers & Big Sisters,” Zimmerman said. “I would see a lot of kids who told me ‘I wish I could do this sport. I wish I had the equipment.’ At the same time, my family was having issues with old equipment in our garage. I figured a lot of coaches, a lot of players, a lot of friends and families were in the same boat. 

“I thought it would be very easy to reach out to different people to see if they had any extra equipment, gather it and try to funnel it out.”