Submitted by Lou Marshall, President, South Jersey MSBL
Despite some rainy weather all day Friday, Tom Hewitt, one of my league managers, and I got to the field early Saturday morning this past weekend and worked hard to get the field ready, accompanied by players from my high school team at Camden Catholic High School. We were able to get it in playing condition so that the Little League from North Camden that we support as part of our summer equipment drive could play the game. Despite some cold and windy conditions everybody had a great time!
The toy and food drive was a huge success. It continues to grows by leaps and bounds every year. We serve all kinds of ball park fare, some donated and some purchased, and we have giveaways at the end for the kids to take home. We receive more and more corporate participation every year. The players and students from Camden Catholic volunteer to work the day during the drive and at the end of the day I take all of the food donations to a local food bank in Camden called the Cathedral Kitchen. I take the players from my high school team with me to unload the truck.
I feel it is important for them to see the inner city and to be quite frank, a not so nice part of it. I tell them when they get home to hug their Mother and Father and thank them for all they do for them. They really get to experience the importance of helping others.
The US Marines come right to the Little League complex and pick up all of the toys. It does not stop there, as on December the 8th we have a party at one of our team’s sponsors called Bobby Rays Tavern and a donation of a toy is required for entrance. The Marines come as well to that party and pick up all of those toys. This party is open to the league and the public.
This was our fifth annual drive and plans are already underway for next year. This has become an important part of the fabric of the South Jersey MSBL and our surrounding communities.
On a final note, the Umpire Association we use for the SJMSBL volunteers to umpire this game. We have four umpires who work the game while 53 umpires volunteered their time! On this day one of the kids showed up and did not have a glove, as he was a lefty and there were not others that he could share a glove with. Home plate umpire Don Crowe went to his vehicle and presented the young man with a left handed glove and told him to keep it and have fun playing ball. I was floored by this, so this spring at the umpire’s annual meeting I am going to present the umpire with a brand new glove on behalf of the SJMSBL. As you can see, there were a lot of great stories on a great day!