Fox Chapel teens respectfully play it forward
Pay it forwardMaking a bigger team

Fox Chapel teens respectfully play it forward

'We want to respect our community members, and the best way to do that is help them out'

Play it Forward is collecting sports equipment so more athletes can play. (Photo by gyro via iStock)
Play it Forward is collecting sports equipment so more athletes can play. (Photo by gyro via iStock)

Two teens are paying it forward with Playing it Forward.

Fox Chapel Area High School students Paige Solomon, 17, and Charlotte Rattner, 15, founded Playing it Forward after recognizing the exorbitant expense associated with sports equipment.

The considerable costs dawned on Solomon before the start of the lacrosse season. She wanted to play, she said, but wasn’t sure she was committed to the sport.

A starter kit, which includes a stick, helmet, gloves, pads and cleats, can run anywhere between $200-$400. Tack on a bag, balls, uniform and other items, and the costs can easily climb another several hundred dollars, according to Lacrosse Balls Direct.

If trying out a sport requires spending several hundred dollars, many people will be prevented from playing, Solomon said.

Around the time that Solomon was mulling over the price of participation, Rattner, a fellow lacrosse player, heard about another friend who struggled to meet the sport’s financial barrier for entry.

Like good teammates, Solomon and Rattner got together and started talking.

They decided to create Playing it Forward, a school-based club that collects and distributes sports equipment to anyone in need.

The club debuted last spring after Solomon and Rattner hung flyers in the neighborhood announcing the group’s objective. The teens placed receptacles in the Cooper-Siegel Community Library and Lauri Ann West Community Center. Donations quickly arrived.

Gifts included basketballs, pickleball equipment, a badminton net, soccer balls, lacrosse sticks and baseball bats.

“We have hockey gear that the Fox Chapel hockey team donated to us,” Solomon said. “My entire garage is filled with stuff.”

Rattner estimates the club has collected 50-70 new and gently used items.

The value ranges, as each item could cost $15-$150, she said.

For now, the two teens are still collecting equipment and have recruited classmates to help.

Before the fall season, the group wants to find an area — not in Fox Chapel — for distribution.

“Ideally, it would be more towards the center of Pittsburgh, so multiple districts could come,” Rattner said. “If it’s too far then it’s hard for them to access it.”

The Fox Chapel teens told the Chronicle the project reflects their Jewish values.

“You want to give back to your community,” Rattner said. “People around us are less fortunate and I just feel like it’s my duty to help.”

Something else to consider, “which we talk a lot about at Emma Kaufmann Camp, is kavod (honor or respect),” Solomon said. “We want to respect our community members, and the best way to do that is help them out.”

Though Maimonides likely never saw a lacrosse player change planes or rip the duck, the great Jewish philosopher articulated the fundamental importance of providing for others.

Within Mishneh Torah, his 14-volume codification of Jewish law, Maimonides cites the biblical text: “You shall support him, the stranger, the resident, and he shall live among you.” That verse, according to Maimonides, means, “You should support him before he falls and becomes needy.”

Conducting oneself according to Jewish values is critical, Solomon said. Whether it comes to collecting gear or distributing it to future players, she continued, “respect is super important.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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