The Rotary Club of the Caldwells in June launched a matching donation challenge at the varsity softball field.
Rotary pledged a gift to the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education to cover half the cost of constructing new dugouts, up to $20,000, if other members of the community donated the balance.
In response, a group of local parents, coaches and players formed “Friends of Caldwell Softball” began raising money to meet Rotary’s challenge. They have been running snack stands at tournaments, soliciting donations from local residents and businesses, presenting to local civic organizations, and selling engraved pavers that will be installed at the site.
Long time Caldwell residents, Bob and Janet Markman, were inspired by the efforts put forth by the young athletes. The Markmans have made a significant donation that will help bring them closer to their goal.
“We’re proud to support this project to ensure that the facilities, equipment and resources available for boys and girls sports are on equal footing,” said Bob Markman. “It’s about time the playing field was leveled. It’s just the right thing to do.”
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.
This field is used not only by the high school teams, but also by players for the T-ball teams, 4th through 8th grade West Caldwell-Caldwell recreation teams, and 10 year & under, 12U, and 14U travel teams. Hundreds of local athletes will benefit from the project.
The Markmans expressed their hope that their donation will inspire others in the community to follow suit in becoming sponsors of the project. Those interested in helping the softball players acquire new dugouts can make a donation in person, online or by mail. Gifts of any amount are welcome and every dollar donated will help.
Gifts $500 and over will be considered sponsorships and will be commemorated with an inscription on a plaque to be hung on the dugouts. Local businesses and organizations that wish to show their support as sponsors will be recognized.
In addition, 6" x 9" engraved pavers can be purchased and personalized with up to four lines of text with 16 characters per line. These will be installed on the walkway leading to the field's bleachers. The cost of an engraved paver is $150.
Gifts can be made on line at www.dugouts.eventbrite.com or made in person or by mail to Friends of Caldwell Softball, c/o Valley National Bank, 15 Roseland Ave., Caldwell, NJ 07006. "Friends of Caldwell Softball" has secured a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor, so all gifts may be considered charitable contributions. For more information, email Thefriendsofcaldwellsoftball@gmail.com
This article was contributed by the Rotary Club of the Caldwells.