Budget cuts hit, local team hits back with community support

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

By: Tanya Mendis

While school districts are slashing their out-of-classroom spending, a local youth sports organization turned to the Internet to keep kids on the football field.

The boys on the Arizona Lions are only 6 and 7 years old, but they've been playing together for four seasons now. But many of the kids were sidelined when the cost of extra-curricular activities continued to climb.

"You've got helmets, you've got gear, you've got league registration fees- that can be $150 right there, and a lot of parents may not have that extra money," says coach J'Cory Horne.

Horne says the coaches began paying out-of-pocket for many of the expenses to keep kids on the field.

"A lot of them live in a bad neighborhood, so for them to come out here and have this family environment really helps them out," says coach Justin Ramirez.

This season, the team's founder discovered a creative way to raise money: he started a Go Fund Me page. The page was free to create, and 95 percent of the money raised goes directly to the organization.

The page has only been active for three weeks, but the team has already raised more than $1,700. That's money the coaches say will be used to defray the cost of equipment and help cover the expenses of field reservations and registration fees.

And the Lions aren't the only ones using Go Fund Me. There are more than 300 pages raising money for education, schools and learning just in Phoenix. There are another 240 for local sports.

Horne says that keeping kids on the field is about more than making them good athletes.

"With football, it's life lessons that you learn on the field," Horne says. "That's what this is really about: teaching them to be good men, good little boys and great students and really develop these kids in all aspects of life."