The very presence of a Little League® program can do wonders for a community, bringing people of various backgrounds together through shared love of the game. But in Michigan District 2, the local Little Leagues went the extra mile in an effort to actively give back to the less fortunate members of their community.
Earlier this year, players, coaches, and family members from 12 leagues in District 2 teamed up with Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes (KLF) and the moving company Two Men and a Truck to collect non-perishable foods in order to help the hungry. The results were amazing, with the food drive collecting enough food and donations for approximately 4,500 meals.
“Loaves and Fishes told us it was one of the biggest one-day drives they’d ever done,” said Bruce Scheck, Michigan District 2 Administrator
Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes has a history of serving children in need, but this drive was one of its first events involving youth programs. This inaugural drive was KLF’s opportunity to make a difference on a large scale.
“It’s not too often we have an event that’s geared toward youth programs,” said Meg Gernaat, KLF’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. “We saw this as a cool way to give back.”
Since 1982, KLF has served as one of the largest charitable food organizations in the Kalamazoo area. They’re already looking ahead to future food drives involving youth sports programs, baseball or otherwise.
“It was a fun way for the children to give back,” said Ms. Gernaat. “We learned a lot from this event.”
The drive was measured by league, on “pounds per player” scale, Mr. Scheck said. Mr. Scheck’s own Parchment Little League alone collected nearly 2,000 pounds of food for KLF. That number is even more remarkable considering there were around 300 people involved, which is more than six pounds per person. As a reward for their great work, Parchment Little League was honored with the Larry MacPhee Award, named after former District Two umpire Larry MacPhee who passed away in 2015 after battling cancer.
“This year was the first one we’d done,” said Mr. Scheck, “So, we decided to organize the fundraiser in (Mr. MacPhee’s) name.”
At Michigan District 2’s May meeting, Mr. MacPhee’s family and friends were on hand to see the award presented to Parchment Little League. District 2 plans on making the award a travelling plaque that will be presented to whichever league collects the most food. Mr. MacPhee’s fellow umpires also contributed a monetary donation that will provide 1,000 meals to those in need.
With the success of this inspired food drive, Mr. Scheck sees proof of how programs like Little League can have a positive influence on a local community.
“This is a perfect situation, showing everyone that Little League is, and always has been, about giving back to the community,” said Mr. Scheck.