YMCA Kicks Off Annual Equipment Drive for Inner-City Baseball

Grand Rapids, MI (May 13, 2015) – The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is proud to announce it has teamed up again with the West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, and Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation for its annual Equipment Drive for the Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball League. The campaign will kick-off at a press conference May 13, 2015, held on Rasberry Field at 3:30 pm.

The Equipment Drive, which will run from May 13th through June 5th, collects new or gently used baseball and softball equipment for its Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball program. Anyone who donates a piece of gently used equipment (youth batting helmets, youth bats, baseballs, etc.) receives four tickets to a 2015 West Michigan Whitecaps’ home game, a voucher for Wendy’s, and one free guest pass to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.

Who: YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank & Grand Rapid Parks and Recreation
What: Annual Equipment Drive Kick-Off
When: Wednesday, May 13th at 3:30 pm
Where: Rasberry Field – 1010 Sheldon Ave. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Drop off youth baseball/softball equipment at any Grand Rapids area Fifth Third Bank branch, Fifth Third Ballpark weekdays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm or during any home game, and at any of the following YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids locations:

  • David D. Hunting YMCA, 475 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids
  • Lowell YMCA, 1335 W. Main St., Lowell
  • Spartan Stores YMCA, 5722 Metro Way, Wyoming
  • Southeast YMCA, 730 Forest Hill Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
  • Visser Family YMCA, 3540 Fairlanes Ave. SW, Grandville
  • Wolverine Worldwide Family YMCA, 6555 Jupiter Ave. NE, Belmont

Necessary funding and equipment are provided by the program’s sponsors: West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. For more information on the Equipment Drive or the Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball Program, contact the Y at 616.855.9622 or visit www.gry.stevens.zone.

The Inner-City Baseball/Softball program is a free program for inner-city youth ages 6-14 that holds games at seven neighborhood parks—Riverside Park, Richmond Park, Garfield Park, Aberdeen Park, Rasberry Park, Plaster Creek Park, and Martin Luther King Park. The program has grown from 384 children in its first year to over 1,100 participants in 2014. Along with the children, the program saw over 130 coaches volunteer their time.

“We’ve set a goal of collecting 500 pieces of equipment this year,” stated Johnathan Pope, Executive Director of the David D. Hunting YMCA. “Every child deserves the opportunity to participate and the Equipment Drive allows for this opportunity.”

The league provides inner-city youth with a safe, structured activity, positive values, and opportunities to build self-esteem and self-confidence. To encourage families and neighbors to participate in the program, games are played at neighborhood ballparks, provided by the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department.

About the Rasberry Field Renovation
This year, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids was awarded a grant in the amount of $54,560 from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) to renovate Rasberry Field and to fund equipment/uniforms. The grant will support the field renovation, which will be completed in August 2015, in order to enhance the playability of the field used by the Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball program.

“Rasberry Field will help us expand the Y’s Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball program and serve the community in a more comprehensive way,” added Pope, “Once improved, it will also be a community field that the neighborhood will be able to enjoy.”

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by the MLBPA and MLB in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 800 grants totaling over $27 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia.