Giving and volunteering is something that comes naturally to all local Little League® programs. Four years ago, Arlington (Texas) Southwest Little League (ASWLL) started a program called “Give Back Day”. On Give Back Day, parents and, perhaps more importantly, Little Leaguers® donate gently used equipment to give to those in need.
“Teaching 8-, 9-, and 10-year-olds how to give back to the community, will turn those kids into volunteers down the road,” said Brett Smith, Arlington Southwest Little League President.
ASWLL sent one of their earliest donations to Ethiopia. A few years back, volunteers traveled to Ethiopia for a mission trip. In addition to their suitcases, they brought tons of baseball gear to give to the children in Dube Bute, located in the southwest corner of the country. It was the first game of baseball the town ever saw.
Give Back Day was an overwhelming success and quickly transformed into a season long program. ASWLL eventually purchased donation bins to place at their local fields in order to collect donations weekly. The league’s mantra, “it’s about so much more than baseball,” instilled in the hearts and minds of all those participating in the league.
Tom Leferink, newly elected Texas District 7 Administrator and longtime Arlington Southwest Little League volunteer recently attended the New D.A. Training at the Little League Headquarters in Williamsport, Pa. After a weekend of educational sessions, Mr. Leferink came back to Texas District 7 armed with even more Little League knowledge. So, when Arlington Southwest, needed a place to send equipment donations, Mr. Leferink knew exactly what direction to point them in.
At New D.A. Training, Mr. Leferink learned about the Little League Urban Initiative. After coordinating efforts with Demiko Ervin, Little League Urban Initiative Director, ASWLL found a home for eight palettes of new equipment, donating it to the Council of Houston Inner-city Little Leagues or C.H.I.L.L. C.H.I.L.L. is a network of local Little Leagues in Houston that banded together more than 10 years ago to exchange ideas about successful programming, fundraising, and ideas for overall league operations.
“If we could do send our equipment across the world, we knew we could do it in our own state,” said Mr. Smith.
ASWLL is located just three and a half hours north of Houston. Frank Velasquez, President of C.H.I.L.L., is thankful for the much-needed equipment and generosity of ASWLL.
“Not many people take the time to look through the donated equipment and think of those who are in need nearby,” said Mr. Velasquez. “Arlington Southwest took time and care into the much needed donation they gave our players.”
While Mr. Leferink takes no credit for the incredible donation given by ASWLL, he’s happy to see that a league in his district is doing good deeds for the Little League community.
“Part of every league’s responsibility is to help other leagues,” said Mr. Leferink. “We’re all in this together.”