“We have to shut down the program…” Sarah said over her coffee. She was my daughter’s Little League coach and close friend. We were discussing the ins and outs of the upcoming season and I had asked about the Junior Umpire program.
It was a great program. And in many ways, truly exhibited the best of local sports organizations. Little League “graduates” (13 and older) could come back and umpire the games for the younger kids. They were given a lunch ticket for the snack bar and a real, though little, paycheck. It inspired them to become mentors, community participants, and to treat the umpires they would have with respect. Sarah had said there was no room in the budget to cover the necessary safety equipment; Helmets, masks, chest protectors, etc.
“How much is a set of Safety Gear?” I asked. “And how many do we need?” Six sets at $80 a piece. An amazing element of our town’s baseball experience was about to die because the organization didn’t’ have $500. Our Little League serves hundreds of kids and the Umpire program was a favorite, employing well over a dozen kids.
I pulled out my phone and ordered 6 sets of gear to be delivered by the weekend. That was a no brainer for our family. With three kiddos of our own that benefitted immensely not only from the Jr Umpires, but from Little League and sports in general, it was heartbreaking to learn that such a small need could be what prevented their experience.
It was the moment that started our mission to be a bridge between small gifts for a big difference. Every bit of research, and personal experience, tells us how imperative sports and activity are for the physical, social, and mental development of children. So many organizations that provide the opportunity to play run on the blood, sweat, and tears of volunteers. They don’t have the bandwidth to procure consistent funding.
Our family set out to be a resource for these organizations. If they need a little help to do a lot of good, we want to be there for them. By pooling small gifts to fund micro grants, we’ve served over 50 different teams, school, and groups. Water bottles to basketballs, boxing gloves to ballet shoes, The Let Them Play Foundation aims to raise awareness and resources to ensure every child, in play, every day.