USF soccer player makes impact helping Haiti

- Giving is what USF's Malani Lee was born to do. 

"Just going to read to students, or going to work at a shelter, or going to work with foster care kids or anything like that, it's always something that we're doing," she explained. "It's a big part of my family." 

Soccer is also a big part of Lee's life. 

In just 6th grade, the USF soccer player found a way to combine her love for soccer with her love of giving to others. She formed Kleatz 4 Kidz, a foundation that donates soccer equipment and raises money for those in Haiti. 

"I just wanted to make a difference, once I saw the earthquake," said Lee. "I didn't really know how. Soccer's been my passion since I was three years old, and it was the easiest way for me to do so." 

Lee delivers the goods herself, and early on, she learned how much it meant to Haitian children.

"A lollipop or a pencil is like the equivalent of giving a kid here in the U.S. an iPhone," she said. "They're never upset, they don't cry. They just really appreciate everything and are very grateful." 

To date, Lee has collected more than 4,000 pairs of cleats and raised $15,000. She assists in teaching the youth English and coaches them on the pitch. 

She also donates food and water.

"The program that I work with, and raise the money and the food for, it's where the kids usually get their only meal of the day," Lee said. 

In these dire situations, the children in Haiti still have hope. 

"When we go work with the kids, regardless of the situations that they live in and the situations that they're brought up in, they're probably the happiest kids that I've ever met," Lee reminisced. 

In particular, there is one girl who Lee has worked with for the past four years. She made a bracelet for her grandmother. After she passed away, the girl gave it to Lee. 

"This was the last memory she had of her grandma. But, she said I'm her role model and a mentor, and she appreciates everything that we do for them, and that my foundation does for them," she said. "It was definitely an eye-opener because she has close to nothing and she's still trying to give me what she has." 

Giving always finds a way to give back. 

If you would like to donate to Malani Lee's foundation, you can contact her at malanilee17@gmail.com or message her through Instagram, @kleatz4kidz.

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