SCARSDALE, NY (WCBS 880) – One person truly can make a difference.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams In Westchester County
Ben Ulene, 15, of Scarsdale, really hit a home run, and he didn’t even have to swing a bat.
Wanting to make a difference in the world he started a charity called the Double Play Foundation which collects used baseball uniforms and donates them to needy children in the Dominican Republic.
The inspiration for the charity came as Ulene was digging in his closet one day at the beginning of 8th grade.
“I found these old baseball uniforms that I’ve been collecting over the years. I didn’t really know what to do with them,” he tells WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
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It was also around this time that Ulene did a project on St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols who did a lot of the work down in the Domincan Republic.
Putting the two together, Ulene started up the charity and set up collection points around Scarsdale and New Rochelle for old uniforms, bats, balls, gloves, and helmets.
American Airlines teamed up with the organization and offered to ship all the uniforms and equipment for free.
“Last year, we brought down a bit more than 750 uniforms and pants, as well as over 300 hats and socks,” he says. “I was a bit overwhelmed. I was, I don’t want to say surprised, but it was good surprise, how generous people around here were.”
LINK: Double Play Foundation
The organization is now holding its second collection drive.
“If you have uniforms sitting in your closet, that you’re thinking about getting rid of, just don’t get rid of them yet. Save them and try and do something good with them. Think of other needier kids who could probably use them,” Ulene says.
Meeting the baseball-hungry children of the Dominican Republic made Ulene realize just how lucky most Americans are.
“A lot of their gloves were stitched up and most of them that were playing they didn’t have cleats. They were just playing in tennis shoes and some of them were not even wearing helmets when they were batting,” he says.
Ulene’s mother is proud of her son.
“He’s done an amazing thing by starting this uniform drive and he’s really inspired all of us to look outside of our community and the greater good,” says Elizabeth Bassen. “He actually surprised me in some ways because of his idealism. I think, in some ways, I started out being cynical. I was worried about a lot of the logistics and how it was all going to work and he kept saying ‘It’s all going to work out. It’s all going to work out.’ and, in the end, he was right.”
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