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Vancouver Island group heads to Cuba with baseball gear for Cuban children

A group of Cuban youths received baseball equipment donated by various Comox Valley organizations and individuals. Photo supplied

Numerous Comox Valley sports and fitness groups, and individuals, recently collaborated to help out some baseball enthusiasts in Cuba.

Local Zumba instructor Gloria Grieve and 10 other Zumba participants and friends recently returned from a two-week trip to Cuba where they visited their favourite resort, Memories Jibacoa.

Having visited Cuba previously, many of the ladies knew of the need in Cuba for humanitarian aid supplies and other necessities that the Cuban people do not have access to for many complicated reasons.

Prior to the trip, the Comox Golf Club Ladies Club collected donations from club members who generously donated everything from shoes to clothing, medicines and hygiene items, school supplies, children’s toys, baseball gloves and so much more.

Then some local baseball connections pitched in.

Cuba loves baseball and when local baseball enthusiast Dale Green heard the group members were looking for baseball items to take to Cuba, he contacted local baseball organizations to look for donations. Thanks to Jason Penner and Scott Buchanan from Comox Valley Minor Baseball Jets, two full sets of kids’ jerseys were donated along with 36 brand new Comox Valley Baseball hats. The Komox Masters Baseball men’s league also donated 36 brand-new baseballs.

All items were packed up into donated suitcases and each member of the group was permitted to take a 50-pound free humanitarian bag courtesy of WestJet. The aid was distributed personally by the group members who arranged to visit a small town near the resort where they had the opportunity to meet the local people and the local baseball team and their coaches.

Grieve said the plan came together as a result of getting to know the locals during previous visits to the resort.

“One of the guys who works at the resort, his kid plays baseball, and that’s how we got to know about the need for baseball equipment,” she said. “So we organized everything at the resort, then went to Jaruco, where a teacher and this guy who works at the resort got a hold of the coach, who brought the kids down to the local field, and we just went down there, handed out the uniforms, gave them all a ball, hats, and everything. The kids were really overwhelmed.”

Grieve would like to thank “all those who donated items and aid and a special thanks to the wonderful ladies who made the trip and all their efforts in collecting, organizing, donating, and distributing suitcases full of supplies. ”

She said that while the collective efforts were incredible, it was not overly surprising that the community stepped up in such a way.

“Honestly, I have done a lot of fundraising in the Comox Valley, and the response is always overwhelming,” she said. “Immediately we have people from the golf club, and the baseball clubs saying ‘Oh, you need this? You need that? I can help.’

“We actually had to turn donations away because we could only take so much with us because we were flying. Even WestJet stepped up… allowing us the biggest bags possible. We stuffed every pencil and crayon into those bags to make up the 50 pounds, and they even let us take a couple of extra (bags) at no charge.”

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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