Local Teen Helps Kids Join Sports Teams, Asks Businesses To Contribute
By Chelsea Cattano
Teams For Kids Foundation is a nonprofit organization that enables children from homeless and low income families within New Jersey to participate in recreational sports programs.
The foundation is the brain child of Abby Bauer, a senior at The Pingry School in Basking Ridge and a resident of Long Valley.
“I started the organization last summer, which is when we received our 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status,” Bauer said.
The foundation is still growing and molding to the needs of the children residing in shelters and temporary housing facilities in Morristown but the success stories are flooding in of kids who are now provided with the opportunity to participate with their peers in recreational sports programs.
For Bauer, the start of the long yet rewarding process of running a nonprofit organization began while she was volunteering at Homeless Solutions, a homeless shelter and low income housing program in Morristown.
“I’ve been kind of running a children’s program there since I was 12-years-old,” Bauer said. “Two summers ago I was running my children’s program at the shelter and we were making s’mores and playing kickball with the kids at the shelter and this 10-year-old boy named Giovanni approached me with his baseball glove and asked if we could have a catch and so I said sure. We threw the ball back and forth a few times and I realized that he had a really great arm and he could toss really well so I asked him if he played on a little league team and he said he wished he could.”
Later in the day, Giovanni’s mom explained to Bauer that families at the shelter couldn’t afford to put their children on recreational sports teams because they needed to save money for rent and living expenses when they left the shelter.
“That kind of just resonated with me and it really bothered me that he didn’t have the same opportunity to play sports that I had and so many other children have, so I really wanted to help kids like Giovanni to have this opportunity which is why I started the Teams For Kids Foundation,” Bauer said.
Bauer and the foundation distributed their first grant of $2,500 to Homeless Solutions in March. Teams For Kids then gives the money to Homeless Solutions and they allocate it to the needs of the families living in the shelter.
“We have had some success stories so far,” Bauer said. “I know for a fact that currently there are four kids signed up to play sports who have utilized the funds for equipment and for team registration and things like that, so the funds are constantly being used.”
Included in the updates that Bauer received from Homeless Solutions were stories of a boy who was able to join a track team and placed fifth at a meet, a boy who is not only signed up for football in the fall but who already has his equipment ready and, according to Bauer, is clearly excited. And a girl in middle school who was able to join her school’s track team because she was able to purchase the required running shoes.
While the foundation is still in its early stages, there are a lot of fundraisers happening right now, as well as planned initiatives to happen in the near future.
Currently, there are two initiatives that the foundation is running. The first one, Teaming up for Kids, uses donated money to created ‘Team Up Kits.’ Inside of the kits is fundraising material and through a partnership with the Morristown Recreational Department, they are being distributed to children on these teams who can raise money and spread awareness.
The other initiative is called the Teams For Kids 2015 Corporate Challenge. Bauer and the foundations are asking New Jersey businesses and corporations to get involved with the Teams For Kids Foundation. The process is simple: an employee registers the business online and picks a date before Labor Day where all employees dress down or wear their favorite sports jersey and donate five dollars to Teams For Kids. The money can be sent via mail to Teams For Kids Foundation, Inc. at PO Box 33, Schooleys Mountain, NJ, 07870-0033, or submitted online. Participants can also take a group photo of their “corporate team” and send it to Teams For Kids Foundation so that they can share it on their Facebook page, website, and blog.
Two future fundraising events include an in-store event in September at Alex and Ani in Princeton where from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 15 percent of all proceeds are being donated to the foundation; and an event in October where the foundation is partnering with Morris United Soccer. There will be a Teams For Kids day with various activities for kids and many different ways to raise money for children in the community.
According to Bauer, it’s going to be hard to find a balance between her senior year of high school and being the backbone of this foundation but she’s willing to give it her all.
“It’s easy in the summer because I have a lot of free time so it’s kind of my priority, but I know that during the school year I’m going to have to find a way to balance it,” Bauer said. “Even if it’s just kind of allocating an hour a night to take care of emails or donations or things that need to get done for the foundation. But I’m probably going to prioritize school.”
For Bauer, this foundation has turned out to be more than she thought it would.
“It’s definitely much bigger than I imagined,” Bauer said. “It’s a huge part of my life and I’m just really proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
To register a business for Teams For Kids 2015 Corporate Challenge or to learn more about the foundation, visit www.teamsforkidsfoundation.org.