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VWS Alumna Collects Soccer Gear at Webb for Hurricane Harvey Relief

Jessica Rice ’12
After Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston, Marina Lesse ’09 stepped up to help, collecting more than 1,000 pieces of soccer gear for children affected by the storm.

Lesse organized a collection drive and gathered soccer gear at three locations in the area, including The Webb Schools.

Soccer means a lot to Lesse. She has played almost her entire life, and currently coaches several teams as a full-time student. When Hurricane Harvey happened, she reached out to a friend who plays for the Houston Dynamo and the team's office to see how she could help. The team said they get a lot of requests and had received more requests for team equipment since the hurricane.

As a student at Webb, Lesse organized a drive for Hurricane Katrina relief, so she decided to reach out to Webb for this one as well. Dean of Campus Life Rick Duque and Director of Parent Relations and Special Events Anne Stewart spread the word about the drive. Duque said the students ran with it.

"People bought into the cause," Duque said, noting that many students play soccer and wanted the children in Houston to carry on.

When Lesse's plea went out to the Webb community, many parents reached out to neighbors or friends who play soccer in order to find additional gear to bring to campus. 

Day student prefects from both schools helped collect soccer balls, cleats and other gear on two main drop-off days, helping Lesse collect some 1,189 items from the locations combined. Most of the soccer balls and cleats were collected at Webb, Lesse said.

"This was a spur of the moment kind of thing," she said. "I'm so overwhelmed with how much support I got from this. I was not expecting that at all."

Amid the collection drive, Lesse and her friends went to the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas where the tragic mass shooting unfolded. Nearly 60 people were killed and hundreds of other people were injured. Although Lesse suffered minor injuries including a sprained ankle, she and her group made it out safely.

She came to Webb just days later to pick up the items for Houston.

"I think that good news was something that I really needed," Lesse said. She took her boyfriend on a tour, and said she could not stop smiling while recalling memories around campus.

"It was kind of like a retreat for me, to be able to get myself out the door to this safe place that I knew would bring a smile to my face," she said.

Between her efforts for Hurricane Harvey and her experience at the festival, Lesse said being "the change that you want to see in the world" is a big thing for her now.

"There's a lot of crazy stuff going on," she added. "If you want to see good being done in the world, it can start with you."
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