Newburyport High senior makes it a priority to share

NEWBURYPORT — A Newburyport High School senior is doing his part to make the world a more equitable place by heading a nonprofit organization that gives sporting equipment to those in need.

Luke O’Brien is the founder of Gear to Share, which collects new or gently used sporting equipment for children who may not have the means to get their hands on them.

“My passions are sports and helping people, and I like knowing that someone’s using this equipment who needs it,” O’Brien said.

The 18-year-old started his nonprofit organization while he was in eighth grade and said he saw it really take off when he was a high school freshman and sophomore in 2020 and 2021.

“Things really started gaining speed during COVID. I set up my website and got my social media going,” he said.

Gear to Share conducted its first equipment drive and filled a 26-foot box truck with sporting equipment that was given to the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Merrimack Valley in summer 2020.

“That was pretty neat,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien and company have also assisted Newburyport Youth Services with its Family to Family holiday gift program in late 2020, as well as directed a baseball equipment drive for the Merrimack Valley YMCA in summer 2021 and another equipment drive for the Lowell Youth Leadership Program that same year.

Gear to Share functions very simply: Interested donors drop off their sporting equipment at O’Brien’s home at 5 Walnut St. He also offers community service hours to local high school students during the equipment drives.

The nonprofit organization is kicking off an equipment drive for Afghan children with donations going toward the five Afghan families who moved to the city last year.

As always, people can drop off new or gently used sporting equipment at 5 Walnut St. O’Brien is looking for everything from soccer balls to shin guards to sneakers and cross trainer shoes for boys and girls.

The equipment drive for Afghan children began on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and will run until Tuesday, March 14.

“This is not only about sporting equipment but about these new kids who came here to our country and don’t exactly know the language,” O’Brien said. “Sports are a great, unifying experience for everyone and, by playing sports, they can unify with more people. Even if they don’t know the language yet. So I’m excited to see what we can do over the next two weeks.”

For more information, go to O’Brien’s website at

O’Brien is a varsity basketball player who was also a member of the undefeated Division 3 state champion Newburyport High varsity boys soccer team last year.

Soccer coach Shawn Bleau said his center back is “a fantastic kid.”

“He’s a natural leader. I have never seen a kid play as hard and physical as he does and be as nice as he is at the same time. But that’s the kind of kid he is,” he said.

Mayor Sean Reardon honored O’Brien as the first recipient of the city’s Youth Service Award during his State of the City address in January.

“Mayor Reardon has been so helpful along this whole ride, whether it is him posting about us on his social media or whatever. He has been very helpful and I appreciate that,” O’Brien said.

Reardon said in an email that O’Brien is “a special kid who comes from a great family.”

“His cause is one near and dear to my heart,” the mayor said. “Providing used athletic gear to kids that need it, might be their only chance to access the sport, especially for those sports that are equipment heavy. Newburyport is also a great community for supporting his efforts.”

Newburyport High varsity boys basketball and soccer team members have helped their teammate out with his equipment drives in the past. O’Brien wanted to make sure to thank his parents, Mark and Melissa, and his brother and sister, Evan and Lottie, for their assistance.

“A lot of this has to do with how my parents raised me. They taught me to look out for others and to be kind to everyone. Basically, treating others how you would want to be treated yourself and I hope I have taken that into a bigger scenario,” O’Brien said. “I don’t know, I just like helping people. It makes me happy and I know it makes other people happy, too.”

O’Brien is mulling his college choices for next year and hopes to study kinesiology and exercise science because he said it allows him to continue helping people while also pursuing his passion for sports.

“I’ll be doing some drives when I come back from school, definitely,” he said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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Newburyport High senior makes it a priority to share

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