Zayner's charity work highlights Crew's efforts

Defender helps fund education and clothe the needy in spare time

While recovery from a preseason
knee injury has limited Crew defender Jed Zayner to 39 minutes in two
appearances this season, the numbers he wants to talk about have nothing to do
with soccer.

Zayner is the exclusive director and
co-founder of Filleo Co., a non-profit group that sells clothes to help fund
education projects and provide clothing to the needy.

A recent e-Bay auction to benefit
the group raised $1,700, a number that exceeded Zayner’s expectations.

“The money is going to a project we’re
doing here in Columbus in August at an underprivileged school giving away
school supplies, sports equipment and clothes,” he added. “We’re also going to
Mexico in 2011, taking the same sort of things so the money raised is going to
a lot of good places.”

Zayner’s charity work keeps him
just about as busy as his time with the Crew.

“It takes up pretty much most of
my time outside of soccer, which I love,” he said. “I’m grateful to be able to
do something like that and have to time to do it.”

The work only gets more intense in
the offseason. In January, he and several other staff members went to New
Orleans for the first Filleo venture outside of Ohio to distribute clothing and
conduct a soccer clinic.

Of course, all MLS teams have
players who make a difference beyond the normal signing autographs and making
appearances.

Teammate Steven Lenhart raises
money to purchase bikes for Africans and hopes to have a website soon to sell
hats to aid the homeless and Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer counts the United
Nation Foundation’s Nothing But Nets program to combat malaria among his
projects.

“It’s one of the really big perks
of what we do,” Hesmer said. “We’re in the spotlight. We’re looked up to by a
lot of kids. It’s a good way to be a positive role model.”

Zayner said it helps to have
others on the team committed to community service.

“We rub off on each other,” he
said. “We talk sometimes about what we can do for each other and help those
that are underprivileged and don’t have as much as we do.”