If you’ve ever had tickets you wanted to give away, you need to know about Sharing Seats Israel.
Founded a year ago, and based on Sharing Seats, the organization pairs available seats at sports or cultural events with any non-profit, accredited organization that helps kids or their families. Sharing Seats was founded some seven years ago in the US.
In the year since it was founded, Sharing Seats Israel has given out 500 seats for various events, said Elizur Agus, who founded the organization with his 19-year-old daughter, Keren Agus, after hearing about the American version founded by Yoni Greenstein and Mike Dube.
The challenge for now, said Agus, is getting more seats donated to a wider variety of events.
“I’m a matchmaker,” said Agus, a real estate investor who lives in Ra’anana and made aliyah from New Jersey in 2009. “It’s not a perfect system, as we’re open to any organizations trying to get seats, and trying to reach teams and promoters, and ticket holders.”
Some of the teams already give away some of their available seats, such as Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv, said Agus. He is trying to augment that process, working with the teams to access their empty blocks of seats, and finding individuals to offer him their available tickets.
“I don’t have the scope of all organizations out there,” he said. “People find out about us and contact us. But the idea is to help people, religious and secular, Jew and non-Jew, and sports and music have the ability to help in this age of fragmentation and divide.”
The kids learn from the experiences as well, said Agus. One of his favorite thank-you notes was from a group who attended a Maccabi Tel Aviv game that the team lost. The thank-you note to Sharing Seats mentioned that they gain from losses as well, learning to continue to try to succeed and win.
Agus is applying that principle to his development of the non-profit.
He has established relationships with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, and the Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Raanana soccer teams, as well as with several musicians, but is still looking for more teams and performers.
He found that many of the local teams perceived to be second tier often have empty blocks of seats available at games.
“There’s no reason why those seats can’t be used when most kids don’t necessarily care where they sit,” he said. “They would just love to go to a game. I don’t need prime seats, just something that could offer a spark in their lives.”
He is also considering finding donors to help pay for extra blocks of seats, in addition to the seats offered by ticket holders or the teams and performers themselves.
Agus is not much of a music or sports fan himself, he said, but was moved by the number of people in his own community who are “doing amazing things.”
“We want to be the Leket of seats in Israel,” he said, referring to the food bank founded by Joseph Gitler, another Ra’anana resident. “We want to help bridge social, religious and ethnic boundaries in Israel.”
Anyone with access to seats to sports or music events in Israel or needing seats to events, should contact Sharing Seats Israel.