Kids Gear, Red Sox Fully Equipped
Kids Gear, Red Sox Fully Equipped
The 2009 baseball season marked the fifth year of the BTF/MLB Equipment Day program. Every year BTF teams up with MLB Clubs to collect new and used equipment at Major League ballparks prior to select home games. The equipment is then donated to local youth baseball or softball organizations of the Clubs’ choice. In addition, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awards a $5,000 grant to a youth baseball or softball organization in each participating market. Collections take place in all Major League markets.
One of the most effective drives during the 2009 season was the Boston Red Sox collection. The drive resulted in nearly 1,200 pieces of equipment collected – good for the 4th highest total amongst the 29 participating Clubs. The Red Sox have taken part in Equipment Day since its inception in 2005 and have routinely had successful drives. The Red Sox chose Kids Gear for Baseball in Lynnfield, MA as their recipient.
Former Red Sox Pitcher (and current Cleveland Indian) Justin Masterson presents BTF check to Jim Chisholm and his daughters, Kaitlyn and Kelsey, at Fenway Park.
Meet Kids Gear for Baseball-Boston Director Jim Chisholm
Kids Gear for Baseball is a non-profit community volunteer program that collects quality used baseball equipment from affluent communities and distributes it to organizations serving children in need. The Red Sox and Kids Gear for Baseball collected nearly 1,200 pieces of equipment, making their drive one of the years most successful. Kids Gear for Baseball director Jim Chisholm took a few minutes to discuss the drive:
BTF: The Boston Red Sox equipment drive was one of the year’s most successful. What do you attribute to the success of this year’s drive?
Jim: The 2009 equipment drive was our best ever, the weather cooperated, the volunteers were enthusiastic and the Red Sox did an excellent job getting the word out early and often. The high-light of the collection was a visit from Red Sox owner John Henry.
BTF: When did your relationship with the Boston Red Sox begin and how did it start?
Jim: Kids Gear for Baseball has been associated with the Red Sox for the past six years. The organization was started by another family in our town of Lynnfield.
BTF: What are some key tips and strategies to coordinating a successful equipment drive?
Jim: Three big things:
- Organization: It is important for us to be prepared prior to arriving at the park. We now have it down to a science.
- Enthusiasm: Our volunteers are enthusiastic and are appreciative. They are also very visible, wearing yellow Kids Gear Shirts.
- Publicity: The Red Sox organization does a very good job alerting the public about the collection. They make announcements regularly leading up to the collection day on both TV and Radio. We also appear on the Red Sox Calendar and on the Jumbotron.
BTF: What do the kids and volunteers take away from this experience?
Jim: It is a very exciting day; a few of the kids had never attended a game at Fenway Park. The Children who volunteer for the collection got a firsthand look at the generosity of Red Sox Nation. It is a lot of work but they know that their efforts are going to a great cause, allowing kids who are less fortunate a chance to play baseball!.
BTF: What does the partnership with the Boston Red Sox, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association mean to your organization?
Jim: Everything, we are a small grassroots organization; however, we have enabled thousands of kids in the greater Boston area to play baseball. Without the support of all three organizations it would be virtually impossible to get the word out and rally support for our organization. The three organizations have been very generous with their time, support and money allowing our family to give back to the community.
BTF: Why are programs like Kids Gear for Baseball-Boston so critical in our communities?
Jim: We see every year the effect Kids Gear has first hand. The organizations we donate the equipment to are very appreciative and their appreciation is overwhelming. Last year we had a veteran’s home from Charlestown, MA attend the equipment distribution. We were able to outfit their entire program. A few days later I received a thank you note from the veterans expressing their gratitude. Over the past several years we have donated thousands of gloves, bats, balls, uniforms to under privileged kids in the greater Boston area.
BTF: How cool was it to receive the BTF check at Fenway Park?
Jim: The Best!! It gives my family a feeling of accomplishment and pride that we have been able to do something to give back. We love the game of baseball and are fortunate to be recognized for our efforts and hope that in some small way we have made a difference.