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NKHS sophomore scores a goal for Iraqi kids in need

POULSBO — Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout was something North Kitsap High School sophomore and Boy Scout Kyle Hollenback had always wanted to do.

He probably didn’t imagine, however, that his culminating project in the Scouts would involve nothing more than boxes, some tape and hundreds of leather soccer balls.

When Kyle’s father, Army sergeant Jerry Hollenback, went to serve his country in Iraq, he noticed that children in the U.S.-occupied nation have an affection for the game of soccer — yet had no means to play the sport.

“My dad would see kids kicking around rocks and stuff,” Hollenback said. “And the children over there don’t have a lot and not a lot of things do to recreationally, either.”

When it came time to decide on an Eagle Scout Project, the culmination of the Boy Scouts experience, Hollenback set his sights on collecting soccer balls for children in Iraq. Since, donations of balls have been flying in. The North Kitsap Soccer Club came in with the biggest offering, giving Kyle about 300 balls to send to the Middle Eastern country.

“They’re all in my room now,” Hollenback said of where some 330 balls are now located.

Shipping was originally to be paid by the Army but it was later found that it was against regulations for the military to send the balls overseas. With normal shipping costs being around $1 per ball, he ran into a near $400 road block.

“He thought the shipping was taken care of,” said his mother, Sylvia Hollenback. “Now, he’s had to regroup the project.”

Hollenback set up a donations table last weekend at Sport Haus in Poulsbo and now has about $200 to help with shipping to Iraq. Hollenback said he admits there is a ways to go before the balls can be sent.

Even so, he said he still needs boxes and shipping materials, such as tape, to help with his project. He will be cleaning and packing up the soccer balls from 1-5 p.m. this Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Mesford Road and welcomes volunteers.

Hollenback said he believes that he’ll make sure the project works out — but he might have changed some things in retrospect.

“(The project) is pretty time consuming,” Hollenback said. “I should’ve started earlier, because now that I’m older, I have more homework and more sports.”

Hollenback is an athlete of all seasons at the high school — playing football in the fall, wrestling in the winter and track in the spring. Though he doesn’t play any soccer.

Despite all other motivations, Hollenback said his number one reason for completing the project is simply the designation of doing it in the first place.

“It’s the fact that you’ve accomplished it — that’s what matters,” he added.

His mother said that while he’s completed the end product — collecting the balls themselves — the means to get them to Iraq still remains.

“Now that he’s had people be so generous, he needs to find a way to get (the balls) there,” she said.

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