Newport Harbor High product Elizabeth Eddy among pro athletes giving back to Stand Up for Kids O.C.


Elizabeth Eddy has scored some big goals in her soccer career.

The former Newport Harbor High School and SoCal Blues club standout went on to play at USC, and still plays professionally for Sky Blue FC as part of the National Women’s Soccer League. She also recently got back from a four-month stint playing for the Damallsvenskan professional league in Sweden.

“We had a one-month long tournament [for NWSL called the Challenge Cup] during the pandemic, and we lived in a bubble,” said Eddy, a midfielder who graduated from Newport Harbor in 2010. “It was really cool, but it was really gnarly. After that, our league was still up in the air. My friends were playing in Sweden, and they were like, ‘Hey, do you want to come play here on loan for four months?’”

Eddy, now 29, is always up for a challenge. Homeless youth awareness is one of her biggest goals yet.

Justine Palmore, the executive director of the Orange County chapter of nonprofit Stand Up for Kids, said there are 31,000 at-risk and homeless middle school, high school and college-aged youth in the county. Eddy wants to help reduce that number.

She was one of six high-level athletes from Orange County who last week raised awareness of youth homelessness through social media. Eddy posted short videos on her Instagram stories asking for a $31 donation to fight youth homelessness, along with the hashtag #WalkAMile.

Stand Up for Kids O.C. led the effort, which took place during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. November is also National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

Eddy, who returned home to Costa Mesa last week, pledged to get more involved with Stand Up for Kids. The Orange County chapter is also headquartered in Costa Mesa.

“I want to go play soccer with the kids or do something like that, create opportunities to connect with the kids and get to know them better,” Eddy said. “I want to help out where it makes sense. That’s kind of the gist. It’s kind of crazy learning that there’s 31,000 youth experiencing homelessness or at risk, and there’s only 400 kids in the program. The goal would be to get from 400 closer to 31,000, which is a huge goal but definitely do-able. It’s just step by step.

“People see ‘The O.C,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s perfect.’ And it’s like, ‘Well that’s a TV show, and they only show you one part of it.’ Every part has a good and a bad to it. There’s definitely a lot of need that people are unaware of because of the assumption that oh, it’s so wealthy. Part of it is.”

Other standout athletes from Orange County also posted to their Instagram stories, including Cleveland Browns fullback and Rancho Santa Margarita native Johnny Stanton, as well as Foothill Ranch native and UCLA gymnastics senior Kendal Poston.

Jen Schroeder, former UCLA softball star and founder of The Packaged Deal, also contributed, as did former Stanford standout swimmer Ella Eastin, who’s from Irvine.

Steven Birnbaum, a professional soccer player for D.C. United also from Irvine, met former homeless youth for a virtual question-and-answer session on Nov. 16 and posted to his Instagram stories.

“The kids were so excited,” Stand Up for Kids O.C. director of operations Carlia Oldfather said. “In the beginning, they were shy, then they couldn’t stop asking questions. It was very cool to see that.”

Stand Up for Kids O.C. director of development Michael Olson said that former model and actor Cory Tomlinson helped bring the athletes together for the cause. Olson said that it was not so much about fundraising but raising awareness, though the nonprofit hopes to raise $10,000 next week on “Giving Tuesday.”

“It costs about $2,000 to put a youth through our 18-24 [year old] program,” Olson said. “We’re hoping to use it for five youth.”

Olson said that volunteering is up during the pandemic, and the organization has about 130 active volunteers. Eddy is one who wants to continue to give back.

“The way that they run the program is really unique,” she said. “It’s not just kids, it’s people ages 18 to 24, college kids. Some people are like, ‘They’re not kids,’ but at the end of the day, if they don’t have parents or their parents are poor, they do need mentorship, advice and support on how to get themselves on two feet and be self-sufficient.”

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