New Jersey State Baseball Champion Chris Lowery has organized baseball and softball equipment collections in his hometown of Randolph, N.J., for disadvantaged children in the Dominican Republic. Knowing the D.R.’s national pastime is baseball, Lowery is passionate about helping the country’s youth sharpen their skills by donating new equipment, and giving them the opportunity to meet some of the world’s best homegrown talent.
Lowery traveled to the D.R. in December with his father to distribute more than 2,000 mitts, bats, balls, helmets, catcher’s gear, cleats and uniforms to orphans and local baseball leagues with the assistance of Food For The Poor and Brother’s Brother Foundation. Approximately 500 baseball jerseys donated by the Florida-based Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Ridge-Palmetto Bay also were distributed.
Florida Marlins’ center fielder Emilio Bonifacio participated in the distribution of baseball supplies in his hometown of Santo Domingo.
“It was very important for me to be there because when I was their age, it was hard for me to find equipment,” said Bonifacio, between receiving high-fives and taking photos with the young players. “I grew up close by and hope the next great player comes from here.”
As the special guests handed out the equipment to the young players, Bonifacio advised them, “Take advantage of this because the whole world does not have this opportunity.”
Lowery comes from a town where baseball is a big deal, so it was no surprise at his final at bat in Santo Domingo he hit the ball out of the park. As he ran around the bases, his teammates were giving him high-fives, rooting for him as he rounded third and headed home.
“The whole team was lining up getting ready to cheer me on,” said Lowery. “It was a tremendous feeling to see baseball is universal – baseball is baseball and everybody loves the sport. It was just awesome. I feel like one of them.”
Sometimes in developing countries local teams have to share bats, and only have enough baseball gloves to field one team. As the players hustle to leave the field, they toss their mitts to the opponents.
This was the second time Lowery, a senior at Randolph High School in N.J., has distributed baseball equipment in the D.R. The initiative started in response to a challenge to help others posed by his father.
“This challenge set into motion a series of events that would have a significant impact on me and thousands of underprivileged boys and girls in the Dominican Republic, and create a foundation for giving for years to come,” said Lowery. “As I began to pass out the mitts, cleats, baseball pants, bats, and helmets, the children’s broad grins, dancing eyes and genuine appreciation forever changed me. Instead of feeling satisfied with our accomplishment, the experience created a burning passion within me to do more – much more.”
“This whole experience reminds us of what Food For The Poor is really all about, bringing love and hope to others,” said Rachmani Domersant, Vice President of International Operations at Food For The Poor.
A video of Lowery and Bonifacio distributing the gear is available on YouTube.
To donate toward Food For The Poor funded projects in the Dominican Republic, please visit Food For The Poor's Web site.
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information please visit, www.FoodForThePoor.org.