Youth baseball league teaches kids to ‘give back’ with inaugural toy drive

Dec 3, 2023

Dartmouth Police’s annual “Fill-A-Bus” toy drive is weeks away — but after Dec. 2, the bus is already part way full. 

For the first time, the Dartmouth Youth Athletic League hosted a toy donation drive, bringing together nearly all of the league’s travel teams to collect new, unused toys that will be donated to the police department’s drive and telethon. 

“We want these kids to know what it’s like to give back,” said DYAA Vice President Nate Ferreira.

The baseball league wanted to help out the police drive, in particular, because the toys collected head directly to local families. 

“It’s good for us to help out the local families,” Ferreira said. 

“It’s going to really be helpful to local kids, no doubt,” said parent Morgan Diaz. 

The DYAA drive ran all day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing community members to drop off toys and games at their own pace. By noon, hundreds of colorful, festive toys were packed inside the DYAA clubhouse. 

Chris Valadao, co-director of the league’s travel program, said one community member pulled up with a truck full of about 50 toys to donate. 

“I don’t think he was even affiliated with our program, he was general public,” Valadao said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Periodically, the young ball players would take their talents to the sidewalk, waving down cars as a group to get more donations. 

Cup of Jo Jo’s Coffee truck also came out to support the drive, providing another reason to stop into the Crapo Field lot. 

While the drive’s main purpose was philanthropy, it also afforded the league a day to gather as a community. Players hung out on the fields playing wiffle ball and cornhole, and the big man himself, Santa, came out to entertain and provide holiday cheer. 

At one point, Saint Nick hopped on his trusty sleigh (read: a John Deere tractor) to wave to passing cars and  advertise the drive. 

“It’s the perfect example to learn how fortunate they are,” said parent Pedro Diaz. “Reminding them, there’s a lot of other people in need out there.”

“We, as a program, we reach out to the community so much — asking, asking, asking — and people are so generous,” Valadao said. “It’s nice to give back.”