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How candles are helping the Seattle Sounders bring soccer to underserved kids

SEATTLE – You may not think candles and soccer have much in common; but a partnership between the two- or, more specifically, between candle votives and soccer- is helping kids in underserved communities have access to soccer and the positive community aspects soccer can bring.

It all started a few years ago, when the idea for the RAVE Foundation was born. Founded in 2013, the plans truly began taking shape last summer to bring soccer into urban areas to empower and inspire youth who may not otherwise have access to the sport.

As the official charitable arm of the Seattle Sounders FC, this 501c-3 public charity hopes to build ten soccer fields and distribute one hundred thousand soccer balls to underserved kids over the next ten years.

Adrian Hanauer is the majority owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, and told us how it all started. "We were talking to a lot of leaders in underserved communities, a lot of the immigrant communities, about soccer fields and the need for fields," he said. "And what became clear was that a lot of times, those communities could get a field built; but then in order to support it [and] maintain it, a lot of the rich kids from the suburbs would come in and rent those fields. And the fields wouldn't be available for the kids who actually live in those communities."

The RAVE Foundation is hoping to change that, by bringing soccer fields into these communities and giving them the chance to play. The hope isn't just to bring a positive activity to kids; it's also to use soccer to unite and strengthen the community itself.

And that's where candles- or rather, the votives to hold those candles- come in.

Lee Rhodes is the founder of Glassybaby. With each hand-blown votive sold, Glassybaby donates 10% through their White Light Fund to one of 400 different organizations throughout the country. Some votives go to specific charities; 10% of sales of the RAVE votives, which are exactly the bright rave color Sounders fans everywhere proudly wear to support their team, goes directly to the RAVE Foundation.

"Glassybaby... started with the idea that maybe there was a way to marry philanthropy with business," Lee told us. "We like to give to places that meet people's basic needs- a lot like the RAVE Foundation, in that after-school programs, if kids don't have a place to go they can make personal choices that aren't the best for them."

Both Lee and Adrian believe it's programs like these that have the potential to lead to long-term benefits. "It's a unifying game," Adrian points out. "All you need is a ball and a little bit of flat ground. So I think at its core is the fact that it's accessible and unifying...  To be able to throw out a ball and have kids of all different nationalities and background playing together, and hopefully communicating and learning each other's perspectives, can be valuable and empowering."

RAVE is set to break ground this month on a new soccer field at Yesler Terrace in South Seattle, with a goal of a 2018 summer opening!

The RAVE Foundation already conducts free clinics, programs and soccer camps in the community. To learn more about the foundation, click HERE.

To learn how your community can benefit, check the website or email: rave@soundersfc.com

To learn more about Glassybaby and how to find the Rave votives, click HERE.