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Oswego Father and Daughter Bringing Joy to Guatemalan Children

Feb 14, 2017 10:07PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Dan and Abbey Kipper started Fun for a Change five years ago and in that time have donated over 1,800 soccer balls to children in Guatemala. (Submitted photos)

When most people retire, they don’t have much of an idea of how they’ll fill their days.
 
But that’s not the case for Sgt. Dan Kipper, who retired last month after 18 years on the Oswego Police Department. No, Kipper will be spending his time continuing the work of the service organization he started with his daughter Abbey in 2012 — Fun for a Change.
 
Fun for a Change collects soccer balls to give as Christmas gifts to impoverished children in the Central American nation of Guatemala. In the last five years Dan and Abbey have collected over 1,800 balls that are given away through relief agency Amigos de Vamos Adelante.
 
“When we started this I thought I would just go around and collect soccer balls from people’s garages in town,” said Abbey, who graduated form OHS in 2013 and is currently a senior at Moody Bible Institute. “It’s turned out to be so much more than that.”
 
Fun for a Change began after Abbey developed a pen pal relationship with a teen in Guatamala. Having a history of volunteering in the community, Abbey said she began to think about the needs there and how she could help out.
 
“I don’t have a particular interest in soccer or soccer balls, but it was a matter of finding out what the needs were and fulfilling those needs,” Abbey said.
 
Abbey and Dan have visited Guatemala three times to help deliver their gifts first-hand. Dan said children will travel for several hours and wait in long lines just to get a shot at receiving a ball.
 
“The first time we went down I thought ‘we’ll just help out here and we’ll be done”, but when you get there you realize you have to do more,” Dan said. “… I guess my goal now is to make sure that every child that stands in line will be able to receive a gift.”
 
Dan said he plans to travel to Guatemala again this December. So far, he’s been able to collect about 90 soccer balls with a goal of 500 this year. Dan’s co-workers at the Oswego Police Department sent him into retirement with a gift of 23 balls.
 
“It was a great retirement gift,” he said. “To me it just said that they know what is near and dear to my heart.”
 
Dan said they’ve also received donations in the past from Oswego Walmart, the Oswegoland Park District, the Oswego YMCA, Boombah, OHS, OEHS and Millbrook United Methodist Church.
 
“The community support has been amazing,” Dan said. “We’ve been so blessed in our country and to have an opportunity to give back is an incredible feeling.”

TO DONATE TO FUN FOR A CHANGE, VISIT DAN AND ABBEY'S GOFUNDME PAGE
 
As for other plans for his retirement, Dan said he also will be helping those who need it with home improvement projects, which is a skill he said he learned from his father.
 
“When I grew up we didn’t have a lot,” Dan said. “My parents gave us the gift of love and we try to share that too.”
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