YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Aug. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Joe Kijowski and his family have spent the last five years hosting players for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Short Season Class-A Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Soon, the giving spirit of the Kijowskis and thousands of other local families will extend far beyond the Youngstown region – all the way to the Dominican Republic. The first step comes Monday night, when, as part of the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) CommUNITY night initiative, fans attending the game against State College at Eastwood Field are encouraged to donate "gently used" baseball equipment that will be sent to children in the Dominican, courtesy of Mr. Rooter Plumbing Youngstown. The Scrappers will also collect equipment at the Aug. 27 game and during the Sept. 3 home finale.
Kijowksi, area director for Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Youngstown, Weirton and Dayton, is hosting Dominican natives Erlin Cerda and Gabriel Mejia this season. He wondered why Cerda and Mejia returned from practice each day with used gloves, bats and equipment.
"It was heartbreaking, because they said their families and friends back home have nothing," Kijowski said. "This is a real cause, a movement. We need to help. As host families, we can make a difference. These players want to reach Major League Baseball and we can help them and their families achieve their dreams."
Kijowski and Bob Beall, president of Mr. Rooter for the Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Weirton and Dayton regions, plan to make the collection effort an annual event and expand it into other communities where they operate.
Social media proved to be the catalyst in launching the effort. After Community Relations and Merchandise Manager Kate Walsh saw Kijowski's request for assistance on Facebook, the Scrappers reached out to Kijowski to make the collection part of the CommUNITY night program.
"Scrapper host families are a vital part of the success of our franchise," Scrappers Assistant General Manager of Marketing Heather Sahli said. "The Kijowski family's idea aligns with the goals of MiLB CommUNITY across the country and the efforts of our organization to create an environment of understanding, acceptance and inclusion among all fans, players and staff members."
Cerda, a 22-year-old third baseman, heads into this weekend's games as the team leader in RBI. He was the most valuable player in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game this year.
Mejia is a 21-year-old, switch-hitting center fielder regarded as the fastest prospect in the Cleveland Indians farm system. He will take the field Saturday with a team-best .317 batting average. Mejia also leads the team in hits, runs scored, total bases and stolen bases.
Interested donors can also contact Mr. Kijowski directly at 330-398-0378.
For a complete promotional schedule, visit www.mvscrappers.com.
Mr. Rooter Plumbing, centrally located in the greater Pittsburgh area, serves more than 2.5 million customers.
Mr. Rooter Youngstown serves three major Northeast OH counties: Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull.
SOURCE Mr. Rooter of Youngstown