The Kiwanis Club of Caldwell-West Essex has donated $20,000 toward the construction of new softball dugouts at James Caldwell High School.
The donation helps to fulfill the Rotary Community Challenge—a pledge by the Rotary Club of the Caldwells to donate $20,000 for new dugouts to the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education if the community could match that amount.
The existing softball dugouts have no roofs, walls or floors. The new dugouts will have roofs for protection from the sun, rain and fly balls, as well as cement floors so the girls are not sitting with their feet and equipment in puddles when it rains, according to the Rotary.
“When asked why the Kiwanis Club of Caldwell-West Essex gets involved in such things as dugouts for the girls’ softball teams, it’s easy for us to respond,” Kiwanis President Bob Hodge stated in a release. “If you look at our logo, you’ll see that it states that we ‘serve the children of the world’ and we take that mission very seriously.”
In West Essex alone, the local Kiwanis club supports seven youth groups with more than 300 children learning about leadership, community involvement, citizenship and more.
Since the Rotary Club Challenge began in June, “Friends of Caldwell Softball”, a group of parents, coaches and players, was formed to help raise funds to meet the school district’s costs for the new dugouts.
Local businesses as well as residents have stepped up to the plate.
West Essex Waterproofing, a family-owned business in West Caldwell, has become a sponsor of the Rotary Community Challenge dugout project. Owner Michael Murphy and his wife, Christine, have two daughters in the Caldwell-West Caldwell softball program.
“Having helped out as a coach in town, I’ve seen first hand the conditions these kids endure being exposed to excruciating direct sun and the elements,” Michael Murphy stated in a release. “I’m delighted that I’m able to support this project.”
The new dugouts will be used by hundreds of young athletes in Caldwell-West Caldwell, from t-ball through varsity, including those in the recreation, travel and school softball programs.
Those wishing to support the dugout project can make a gift online at www.dugouts.eventbrite.com, or in person or by mail to Friends of Caldwell Softball, c/o Valley National Bank, 15 Roseland Ave., Caldwell, NJ 07006. For more information, e-mail Thefriendsofcaldwellsoftball@gmail.com.