The long baseball journey from New York City to the Dominican Republic begins with just one small step.
Ok, that may seem backward. It's usually the other way around, right? But in this case, the long baseball journey begins in New York City with an empty box. The small step is every donation of baseball/softball gear I receive in my ongoing drive to support the community of Boca Chica. Those steps fill up the box. All the steps together? That's a whole lotta love. Love from y'all.
In gratitude for that love, I thought I'd tell you a little story of the journey of one box. The last box I sent. In January 2015. Um, a year ago. Yikes. Here’s how the box grew in New York City during the final week of December 2014. My Big Santa Christmas box.
Look at all those awesome donations! There was so much gear, I couldn't fit it all in the photo.
Organizing it takes some time, people. And space.
I sort gear into piles. Then I re-sort them.
Then I spend a couple of days stepping over the piles while thinking about what should go in the box this trip.
Then I get out a fresh box. Gotta have a big, deep box.
I start to fill it. And then I re-sort one more time.
I stuff that box with as much gear as it will hold. Then I cram in some more.
Creativity is key. I fold and roll and shove jerseys into cleats, and caps and balls into batting helmets. You get it.
Next I wrap it with a whole lotta packing tape so it won't break open. And to keep others from opening it.
The shipping company picked up the box on January 17th.
Here it is heading off to its cargo cruise across the sea.
The box was heavy. The guy was having a hard time getting it down the stairs.
The box arrived in Boca Chica late. Like late April. Seems the shippers couldn't find the house. Even though they've delivered boxes there before. Hmmmm. The Dominican Republic can be wacky like that. You know. It’s a thing.
No worries. A couple of smart, savvy, don’t take no shit women calling from New York City and Boca Chica (that’s me and my friend Rosi Vásquez) got it sorted out. The box got to my friend Luís Hernández. And Luís distributed the love. Here's what went down.
Some of your donations went to talented individual players in need. Boys and girls at a stage where the trajectory of their lives might be changed by a good glove they can call their own or by a pair of cleats that can grip the earth and let them run like the wind.
Donations also went to our old friends at Club Juan Alberto Ozoria. But with this box, Luís extended the love outward to other struggling grassroots organizations: Liga Mejia and Liga Roa. Luís gave whatever was most needed that we could offer--bats, gloves, batting helmets, catcher's gear, bases, and clothing. Liga Mejia and Liga Roa received enough gear and clothing to fill a duffel bag each. Awesome! Let me briefly introduce them to you.
Liga Mejia is located in La Caleta, a neighborhood in west Boca Chica, close to the airport. Here is señor Mejia with some of his player trainees and your donations on the field they practice and play on.
Liga Roa trains on a field in east Boca Chica. Unfortunately, the field is more grass than dirt. Like many, many fields in the Dominican Republic. Still, señor Roa keeps his field pretty smooth.
Liga Mejia, Liga Roa, and Club Ozoria are all fighting the same battle. And they struggle to do it with few resources. Your donations mean so much. I repeat: your generous donations help them keep kids off the street and away from drugs, prostitution, and other kinds of delincuencia (delinquency, crime). Your donations help boys and girls develop their talents, learn social skills, adopt new tools for living, and cultivate a solid sense of self and responsibility to others.
Through sport clubs like these, baseball is applied to help young people make sense of the life that is. And to prepare them to make a better life in the future. Not everyone can become a Big Papi. But, as Luís says, they can become good persons.
Small steps. A long journey. Well worth it.
Thank you for your generosity.
Dios bendiga a ustedes. God bless you.
E. B. Gallardo