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Soccer players from St. Helens and Scappoose high schools sell tree saplings as team fundraiser

COURTESY PHOTO - From left to right: Simon Date, Matt McHugh, Theresa Muth and Scott Stanton pose for a quick photo. The group of coaches, community members and soccer enthusiasts helped kick off a soccer team fundraiser for Scappoose and St. Helens athletes to sell trees, which will then be planted this fall along the Crown Zellerbach Trail. The athletes will face off for their own 7 Mile War games on Oct. 23.Most school rivalries don't involve flora, but soccer players from Scappoose and St. Helens high schools are changing that.

As part of the soccer teams' 7-Mile War rivalry, the student athletes are selling tree saplings as a fundraiser, which they will ultimately plant on neutral ground later this fall.

While student fundraisers often involve selling a sugary treat or other food, a group of coaches, community members and parents came up with the idea to do something different. Matt McHugh, a master broker for Cascadia Home Loans, came up with the idea and contacted soccer coaches Simon Date and Scott Stanton, as well as Theresea Muth, a real estate agent with John L. Scott, to make the idea a reality.

Tired of candy bar sales, McHugh wanted to do something that would make a difference in the community, as well as benefit local students and athletes.

"I'm just pleased that it's a real positive for the community," McHugh said.

Muth got involved as a sponsor since her two daughters, both Scappoose alumna who were involved in the soccer program, thought the fundraiser was a great way to give back to students and the community as a whole.

Supporters of the fundraiser don't get to keep the trees, but are instead sponsors. Sometime this fall the soccer teams will meet up to plant the trees on the Crown Zellerbach Trail, although an exact date and location have not yet been finalized.

Amber Kester, a soccer parent and a member of the Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, agreed to donate saplings to the fundraiser, allowing any money collected from the fundraiser to be retained by the respective soccer team.

"I really hope it promotes sportsmanship between St. Helens and Scappoose," McHugh said. "One of the things I hope is that regardless of who wins or losses, these kids will roll up their sleeves and work together to plant these trees."

Date said the unique nature of the fundraiser is also a good conversation starter and get students engaged in the community.

"A lot of reaction has been, 'Oh, this is cool.' It's different and it prompts more questions, like 'Why are you doing it?'" Date said. "It's cool to have those kids engaged and

connecting with the community."

When the fundraiser wraps up in mid-October, whichever girls' team and boys' team has sold the most trees will also earn a cash prize of $1,000 jointly funded by Cascadia Home Loans and John L. Scott's Muth. The soccer coaches will then be able to use the funds for their teams however they see fit.

While the fundraiser has been up and running for several months, organizers said it was tough getting traction during the summer when soccer wasn't in season.

"We announced the fundraiser on Earth Day, but being that we were so far out of season, it was slow to gain traction. Once we got into the season, teams were picked and the date for our game was scheduled, the fundraiser picked up and is becoming a fun little side competition," Stanton explained in an email to the Spotlight.

With October just around the corner, and the soccer version of the 7 Mile War game just on the horizon for Oct. 23, the teams are hoping to ramp up fundraising.

To support the St. Helens or Scappoose boys' or girls' soccer teams, or find out more about the fundraiser, visit www.cascadialoans.com/7mile.

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