North­eastern stu­dents are dis­trib­uting checks this week to six Boston orga­ni­za­tions that pro­mote youth fit­ness through Husky Wish Gift, a phil­an­thropic pro­gram started this aca­d­emic year by the Student-​​Athlete Advi­sory Com­mittee (SAAC).

Grants ranging from $500 to $1,200 cover uni­forms, equip­ment, and par­tic­i­pa­tion fees, and sup­port pro­gram bud­gets for teams and orga­ni­za­tions (recip­i­ents detailed below) that offer sports and exer­cise oppor­tu­ni­ties to Boston youth.

I per­son­ally ben­e­fited from the advan­tages of sports as a young kid,” said Missy Elumba, ’09, founder and exec­u­tive director of Husky Wish Gift, and 2009 recip­ient of the pres­ti­gious national Hockey Human­i­tarian Award rec­og­nizing top col­lege ath­letes’ com­mu­nity involve­ment. “There are mil­lions of kids who don’t get such an oppor­tu­nity, and just as many com­mu­nity pro­grams that don’t get the sup­port they need to keep them going,” she added. “This is where the North­eastern SAAC Husky Wish Gifts come in.”

Northeastern’s SAAC Husky Wish Gift pro­gram is devel­oping a sus­tain­able phil­an­thropic frame­work, so that it will be able to sup­port youth fit­ness in the com­mu­ni­ties sur­rounding the Uni­ver­sity on an annual basis. Through cre­ative fundraising, including a “date auc­tion” and matching funding from the Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion, the pro­gram raised more than $5,000 for this year’s gifts. In addi­tion to making a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence for youth who might not oth­er­wise play sports, Northeastern’s student-​​athletes learn how to give strate­gi­cally and fur­ther develop their lead­er­ship skills.

Through these gifts, we hope to accom­plish greater oppor­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­mental enrich­ment and instill values of sports­man­ship and hard work,” said Kelly Sca­fariello, senior assis­tant director, com­pli­ance and enroll­ment ser­vices, in the ath­letic depart­ment. “The North­eastern ath­letics com­mu­nity strives to foster a phil­an­thropic cul­ture among all student-​​athletes, so wher­ever our edu­ca­tion and ath­letic deter­mi­na­tion take us in the future, we have the tools to help others. The com­mittee also hopes to see this frame­work dupli­cated in SAAC com­mit­tees in other uni­ver­si­ties to ben­efit mul­tiple com­mu­ni­ties around the country.”

I’m so proud that this idea came from the student-​​athletes,” said Peter Roby, director of ath­letics. “They were inspired to look out­ward, to help others rather than being focused just on them­selves. Their values speak to the cul­ture we are trying to imbed in the ath­letic depart­ment; for an ath­letic director, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

2009 Husky Wish Gift recipients:

•Rope Burners of Orchard Gar­dens Com­mu­nity Center in Rox­bury is a com­pet­i­tive double Dutch jump-​​rope team, a safe means for youth to get involved in sport and exer­cise. The Husky Wish Gift funds uni­forms and nutri­tious snacks for long days of competition.

•Regan Youth League of Jamaica Plain pro­vides more than 600 chil­dren aged 6–15 the oppor­tu­nity to play orga­nized base­ball and soft­ball in an open, safe, and friendly envi­ron­ment. The Husky Wish Gift funds base­ball and soft­ball bats for the 2009 season.

•Sportsmen’s Tennis Club pro­vides tennis, aca­d­emic and social enrich­ment pro­grams throughout Boston, specif­i­cally for youth in the city’s minority and low-​​income com­mu­ni­ties. The Husky Wish Gift funds equip­ment needed for the club’s after-​​school Match Point pro­gram, a com­mu­nity out­reach ini­tia­tive that aims to reach 300 youth.

•Hawthorn Youth Com­mu­nity Center in Rox­bury hosts a free summer pro­gram where low– and moderate-​​income youth aged 6–18 can learn double Dutch, soccer and step dance, and develop lead­er­ship, team­work, and violence-​​prevention skills. The Husky Wish Gift funds hiring high-​​school stu­dents to teach and gain valu­able work expe­ri­ence in the process.

•For Kids Only After School Inc. in Revere offers youth aged 5–14 cre­ative fit­ness and well­ness pro­gram­ming, sports edu­ca­tion, nutri­tion and per­sonal enrich­ment activ­i­ties through its Youth in Motion after-​​school and summer pro­gram. The Husky Wish Gift enables expanding pro­gram­ming to include soccer and soft­ball instruc­tions, scrim­mages and recre­ational play.

•Rox­bury Prepara­tory Charter School in Mis­sion Hill cur­rently enrolls 224 minority stu­dents. The Husky Wish Gift funds equip­ment to start new soft­ball and base­ball programs.