SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, Dominican Republic – Children living at the Nuestros Pequeno Hermanos Orphanage received new shoes and baseball tips from the Texas Rangers and Buckner International as part of the two organizations’ ongoing partnership to impact children.
[caption id="attachment_4466" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Jim Sundberg places shoes on the feet of a special needs child."][/caption]
Rangers Hall of Famer Jim Sundberg, Chief Operating Officer Rick George, and All-Star pitcher Alexi Ogando helped Buckner put new shoes on the feet of more than 230 orphans Nov. 15. The group was joined by players from the Rangers’ Dominican Academy who conducted a baseball clinic for the children.
“Getting new shoes and meeting such tremendous role models on the same day had such a great impact on these children,” according to Buckner Vice President Scott Collins. “We’re so grateful to the Rangers for their dedication and desire to be such a positive influence in the lives of others.”
“It was great to partner with Buckner International to allow these children the opportunity to meet our future players and to be able to provide them shoes that are so needed,” commented George. “It is important for our organization to give back to the communities that we are in and it was an outstanding experience for our players and staff to have this interaction.”
During the clinic, Rangers players worked with the children in stations to teach fundamentals such as base running, throwing, hitting, and basic stretching exercises.
“It was so impressive to watch these talented young baseball players work with children who have been through so much in their young lives,” Collins said.
Collins said he was also touched by the sight of Ogando, Sundberg, and George “kneeling down on the floor and putting shoes on the feet of the children. I can’t begin to tell you what it meant to the children and to me personally to see the humility of these men.”
The event was hosted by Buckner International as part of its Shoes for Orphan Souls® program. Each year, Buckner distributes more than 200,000 new shoes worldwide to vulnerable children. Since 1999, Buckner has given away more than 2.2 million pairs of shoes.
Buckner began work in the Dominican Republic in 2009. Along with distributing humanitarian aid to the country, Buckner opened its first Community Transformation Center in the DR last year and plans to launch two additional CTCs in 2012. In addition, Buckner is in the process of developing a plan to operate a foster care program in the future.
The Buckner CTCs provide supplemental education to children in poverty-stricken communities by offering music, literature, Bible, and vocabulary classes through an after-school program. Other programs include personal growth classes such as hygiene, self-esteem, and parenting instruction. A new computer lab for at-risk youth is also set to open soon.
In September, the Texas Rangers worked Buckner to host more than 250 Dallas-area children served by Buckner at a game with the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers Foundation also presented a check to Buckner to support the 132-year-old organization’s work in the community.
Buckner International is a global non-profit ministry that seeks to make life better for orphans, vulnerable children and families.
Click here to see a slideshow of photos from the trip!
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