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Somers Kids Lend a Mitt

SOMERS, N.Y. - When ninth-grader John Lombardi was cleaning out the family garage, he could not bear the thought of tossing away his old baseball bats, soccer balls and mitts.  So he talked to a few friends and together they made a plan to recycle their outgrown sports paraphernalia by donating it to needy children.

“We started to make phone calls to organizations and we had an overwhelming response,” said Chris Abatecola , Lombardi’s long-time friend. “So now we plan to have a used sports equipment drive as each sports season ends.

“Our first drive is March 3 and 4. It’s going to benefit St. Christopher’s, Inc. in Dobbs Ferry.” St. Christopher’s provides special education and coordinated residential treatment to adolescents who fall outside the ordinary secondary school mainstream.

“We’re also thinking of a homeless shelter in Manhattan," Abatecola said. "And Father Augustine (Addai) said he would take equipment along on his next trip to Ghana. He said they love to play soccer there.” Addai, of Yorktown’s St. Patrick’s Church, is a native of Ghana.

The teen also wanted to let people know that anyone interested in getting involved can email the group and they will come and pick up equipment any time of the year.

The name of the new organization is Let’s Play It Forward and the email address is letsplayitforward@aol.com . “We even have a slogan,” Lombardi said. “Take off your mitt and lend a hand.” A website is under development.

The boys who make up Let’s Play It Forward have all been friends since first grade, or earlier. They include John Lombardi, Chris Abatecola, Luigi Olinto, Daniel Rannekleiv, and J.T. Olert, all ninth graders at Somers High School. Ryan Wilson, a ninth grader at JFK High School, T.J. Bonacorso, a ninth grader at Yorktown High, and Anthony Lombardi, a seventh grader at Somers Middle School are also on the team.

Let’s Play It Forward is looking for more volunteers to help distribute fliers and do other organizational tasks. Just send an email if you have some spare time and energy.

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