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Zayner's charity work highlights Crew's efforts

While recovery from a preseason knee injury has limited Crew defender Jed Zayner to 39 minutes in two appearances this season, the numbers he wants to talk about have nothing to do with soccer.

Zayner is the exclusive director and co-founder of Filleo Co., a non-profit group that sells clothes to help fund education projects and provide clothing to the needy.

A recent e-Bay auction to benefit the group raised $1,700, a number that exceeded Zayner’s expectations.

“The money is going to a project we’re doing here in Columbus in August at an underprivileged school giving away school supplies, sports equipment and clothes,” he added. “We’re also going to Mexico in 2011, taking the same sort of things so the money raised is going to a lot of good places.”

Zayner’s charity work keeps him just about as busy as his time with the Crew.

“It takes up pretty much most of my time outside of soccer, which I love,” he said. “I’m grateful to be able to do something like that and have to time to do it.”

The work only gets more intense in the offseason. In January, he and several other staff members went to New Orleans for the first Filleo venture outside of Ohio to distribute clothing and conduct a soccer clinic.

Of course, all MLS teams have players who make a difference beyond the normal signing autographs and making appearances.

Teammate Steven Lenhart raises money to purchase bikes for Africans and hopes to have a website soon to sell hats to aid the homeless and Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer counts the United Nation Foundation’s Nothing But Nets program to combat malaria among his projects.

“It’s one of the really big perks of what we do,” Hesmer said. “We’re in the spotlight. We’re looked up to by a lot of kids. It’s a good way to be a positive role model.”

Zayner said it helps to have others on the team committed to community service.

“We rub off on each other,” he said. “We talk sometimes about what we can do for each other and help those that are underprivileged and don’t have as much as we do.”