We recently saw a wonderful Mitzvah Project featured on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America and wanted to share it with our readers.
Billy Cook, a 12-year-old from Washington Township, New Jersey, is a self-described “baseball fanatic” and he sure hit a home run with his Mitzvah Project!
Combining his love of the game, specifically the New York Yankees, and honoring U.S. soldiers serving overseas, he came up with the idea of “Billy’s BASEballs” for his Mitzvah Project.
Billy had originally planned to send letters to the troops to complete his service requirement. Like most, Billy is a busy kid with school as well as playing baseball and basketball. An idea from his mom, Phylisse Cook, to include baseballs with his letters to the troops, sparked an even bigger idea.
She said, “Why don’t we just write the letters right on the baseballs.” A great idea was born.
With the aid of his mom, dad and brother, since October Billy has sent 1,500 baseballs to soldiers serving as far away as Afghanistan.
“We send a lot to AFRICOM, the largest military base outside the U.S.,” said Cook. “We send 18 balls at a time and one person becomes the baseball ambassador and hands them out to their unit.”
Billy and his family have purchased over 100 baseballs while the rest have been donated by family, friends, local businesses and baseball organizations. The Cooks handle the shipping of the baseballs and worked with the Major Stuart Adam Wolfert Institute in New York to determine where around the globe the baseballs should be sent.
They ask people to address the notes with, ‘To Our Heroes,’ and then they write a message of hope. The family brings baseballs to groups like the Girl Scouts and host tables at local events where anyone can sign a baseball for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Billy has received many great notes of thanks: one soldier wrote that he joined the military after he was cut from a Major League Baseball team and that this was the coolest gift he’s ever received and that it was so personal it brought him back to his youth.
Recently Billy was awarded Citizen of the Year from the North Jersey Crime Prevention Unit.
Though Billy’s Bar Mitzvah will be held in April, he is leading the effort to continue and expand “Billy’s BASEballs” to make sure it continues after his Bar Mitzvah.
For more information on Billy’s BASEballs, click here.