MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month:

Zayner's Filleo project provides opportunity for kids in need

Jed Zayner

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

In 2008, Columbus Crew defender Jed Zayner embarked on a humanitarian trip to Mexico armed with more than 150 pounds of clothing and soccer gear. He spent two weeks teaching soccer skills to orphans and distributing food and clothing to under privileged children and families. During this trip, Zayner found the inspiration to start a project to help those in need.

If you have ever played in a tournament, ran a race, joined a recreational sports team or attended an event, you probably received a t-shirt. You wore it proudly for a short period of time before retiring it to the back of your closet. Traditionally, these shirts aren’t very trendy. Enter Jed Zayner and his organization, Filleo.

Filleo is a not-for-profit organization which provides t-shirts at a cost for sports teams, camps, businesses or anyone looking to distribute apparel. Filleo provides high quality fabrics and cool designs with stylish logos that can be worn as street wear as well. Profits from the sales benefit under privileged children. Filleo also solicits donations from companies to help in their mission of providing aid for kids and families in need.

The buzz is strong. Filleo has seen a 200% growth each year since its inception. At first relying only on friends and contacts to help get his vision in motion, Zayner found his idea had resonated well with people, and offers to help quickly gained steam. Filleo is completely operated by volunteers so all proceeds go direct to the cause. The not-for-profit has recently expanded its reach to outside of Zayner's immediate circle. A marine in North Carolina and students from Ohio State are amongst Filleo's biggest advocates.

“Technology makes a big world small,” Zayner said. “Anyone can be a Filleo ambassador in their state. If there is a team that needs outfitting, a corporate outing, a 5K race, Filleo can help. Some of our greatest volunteers I have yet to meet, we just work through email and phone,” he continued.

Zayner has set a tremendous example and continues to inspire his friends, staff, teammates and those he has impacted to “give and feel the love.” The youngest of four boys, Zayner was raised by a single mom on the outskirts of Chicago. He knew what it was like to be in need and feels strongly about giving back and recruiting others to help his mission.

“I want to be able to give these kids every opportunity I can for them to have success and to achieve something great in life. But especially, to let them know that they are worth it and their dreams are worth fighting for.”

Beyond donating funds, Filleo acts as a resource for kids. Providing clothes and school supplies Filleo also gives them opportunities they might not normally have access to.

Later this summer, Filleo will host a carnival night. Local Columbus youth will have the chance to enjoy a fun night out and focus on being kids. Filleo also hosts soccer clinics and basketball tournaments. Although sports are used as a platform to engage kids and the community, Filleo is available for anyone in need. Zayner's vision for Filleo is to inspire those around him to commit to making a difference for those in need, and then they will, one day, give back to someone else in need.

“We are built to love. Filleo helps to fill that need inside. To encourage others to live beyond themselves, love beyond themselves and give beyond themselves. That’s our motto.”

For more information on Filleo or to find out how to contribute, visit www.filleo.org.