That the children of La Manzanilla will be able to take part in a pickup game of baseball, heck, maybe even form a league, may not sound like a big deal to most, “but it sure is to them.”
A local couple’s campaign to collect baseball equipment for the children of this small fishing village has taken off, literally, and they’re hoping more people will pitch in.
Longtime Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA) member Robin Pearson, 64, said he got the idea a while back, explaining that he and his wife Vicki have been “going down there for the last three years (during the winter), and I always thought I would love to bring some ball equipment because the kids don’t have anything.
“I have not seen a kid with a baseball bat or glove in all the time we’ve been going there — but because we go by plane I couldn’t take much with me.”
That all changed when they met fellow snowbird and Mexican neighbour Erik Shrenk from Victoria. Rob and Vicki drove their first shipment of equipment down to Victoria three weeks ago and Shrenk left for La Manzanilla with his truck stuffed full of ball gear that Rob pulled together here in Oceanside.
Rob plays ball for the Over 60 Parksville Breakers softball team, and last August he put an announcement out to the PGOSA members and to Marvil Schlitz from Bowser way, who had done this kind of thing numerous times over the years.
“Well we ended up with ton of stuff,” said Vicki, pointing to a set of uniforms, “lots of bats, loads of balls, lots of jerseys and three sets of bases.”
Erik took a set of bases, two sets of jerseys, about 10 bats and about 50 balls with him, which is about half of what Rob has waiting in the wings. This first shipment they figure will be enough to equip at least one school and everything they have accumulated to date will do three.
“It all came together quite quickly,” Rob said with a smile, adding the PGOSA members “sure came through … I mean I knew they retire a certain amount of equipment each year, but I was really surprised by how much I got.”
“There’s only a thousand people in this little village … it’s really spectacular, and the people are wonderful — we just want to give back,” said Vicki, pointing out, “this is done out of love for the Mexican children, and for no other reason.”
The village, La Manzanilla it should be pointed out, was recently slammed by Hurricane Jova.
“They got hit hard and they’re a poor town to start with,” said Rob, then explains they have been in contact with people in the village who tell them volunteer coaches are standing by “and that the kids can’t wait.”
In the meantime, West Jet has agreed to allow them to bring an extra duffle bag full of gear with them for humanitarian purposes when they fly down to Mexico Dec. 31. Anyone able to help out can call Rob at 250-228-3497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’d like to take a duffle bag full of gloves down with us,” said Rob. “Any size, but the more kids gloves the better because that’s who they’re for.”