December 1, 2017 | Stories
When Daulton Zeaman received photos from the Bahamas of a child playing with the baseball glove he had grown up using, he knew he was doing something special. Daulton understood that he was doing a good deed by organizing a collection drive to send baseball and softball equipment to underprivileged youth, but seeing another kid getting the same joy he did from that glove solidified the importance of what he was doing.
As he neared his 13th birthday and his bar mitzvah, Daulton was in search of a mitzvah project in which he could help the less fortunate. In the Jewish religion, prior to having a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony, kids are tasked with completing a mitzvah project, in which they complete a good deed or act of charity.
Daulton explains that while he could have gone down the more traditional path of organizing a food drive or spending time with the elderly, he wanted to find a project that would he would have a personal connection with. As a sports fan and baseball player, Daulton began to search for sports organizations that he could connect with to work on a mitzvah project. When he discovered Pitch in For Baseball, which is based near Daulton’s suburban Philadelphia hometown, he knew he had found the perfect match.
After reaching out to the organization, Daulton and his family got set up to begin collecting lightly used baseball and softball equipment. That equipment could then be brought to Pitch in For Baseball’s nearby facility and donated to kids and school programs in need of equipment across the country and around the world.
To get started, the Zeamans set up a collection site at a sporting goods store near their home. Right away, the donations began to pour in. With the immediate success of the collection, Daulton knew he had to expand his collection sites to other locations to maximize on the equipment drive. He began contacting baseball training facilities, such as All Star Baseball Academy in Warminster, Pa., and Sluggersville in Northeast Philadelphia.
“We’re able to ask them to leave a bin there for collection,” Daulton says. “When we leave it in there, there are people that are coming and going all the time, so they leave stuff they don’t need anymore. Every so often we’ll come by and pick it up and bring it in with our donation that we take to Harleysville in September. That’s usually a big turnout.”
While Daulton’s first collection drive was a huge success, resulting in one of the largest collections Pitch in For Baseball has received from a single collector, he knew that he couldn’t let the drive just be a one time experience. Daulton and his family have now kept the collection drives going, and have now reached their fourth year of collecting.
Daulton explains that after his bar mitzvah, with his mitzvah projected successfully completed, he could have moved on from collecting for Pitch in For Baseball. But the fact that his first drive had been so successful and that he was able to do such positive work for an organization that had personal meaning for him, inspired him to keep the collections going.
“I feel like it’s such a good thing to help other people,” he says. Especially when it’s something that relates to me, I feel like it’s something that I should be doing. It’s not just like a chore – it’s something that I want to do.”
In the subsequent years since Daulton’s first collection, the Zeamans have had to expand the scope of their collection even further. They have created a Facebook page to help spread the word about Daulton’s work with Pitch in For Baseball and have even reached out to local towns to see if they have any spare equipment they could part with.
One such call to a nearby town resulted in about 20 bags full of equipment, as the town was in the process of overhauling its baseball and softball gear. Daulton explains that as the years have gone by, he’s learned that the best way to receive the most equipment possible is to be persistent, since you never know where the next big donation could come from.
“The best advice I can give is to be persistent with it,” he says. “Try to get as many people to see it as you can. That’s the only way you’re going to be successful with it.”
Additionally, the Zeamans have been able to add a monetary collection aspect to their drives, so if people want to take part in the donations, but don’t have equipment to spare, they can still contribute. Daulton has also received a Disney Summer of Service grant, which provided $500 that Pitch in For Baseball utilized to equip two teams.
Now that he’s in his fourth year of collecting equipment, the local baseball community has come to know Daulton and know that he provides a resource to make sure that old equipment can get put to good use. It’s now no longer uncommon for the Zeamans to come home and find a bag of baseballs waiting outside their house for them to donate.
And while Daulton explains that being able to send equipment to locations around the world has been immensely rewarding in helping kids play the game that he loves, he explains it’s about more than just baseball. Since he’s grown up playing baseball, he explains he understands that there’s more to the game than just what happens on the field.
“I think it’s great how all these people are now going to be able to play the game,” he says. “They wouldn’t have had that opportunity before. Even if it’s not the best equipment, they’re now able to experience aspects of the game. It’s not just about fun – it’s about friends, responsibility, cooperation with your teammates. It teaches you more than just baseball. It’s like a life skill.”