Katie Murray knows that sports can have a vital impact on kids’ lives. This is why for the past four years, she has worked to give other kids the chance to get on the field.

Now a senior in high school, Katie has collected and donated more than 400 pieces of baseball and softball gear to Pitch In For Baseball & Softball.

In March, Katie sent 47 items valued at $1,300 to PIFBS’ warehouse in Harleysville, PA. The shipment included bats, helmets, cleats, gloves, catchers gear and other items that will help give children in under-resourced communities the opportunity to get involved in the game.

The New Jersey native became interested in the cause in 2017, hoping to work with her club softball team to create an annual event to give back. She was searching the internet for organizations to partner with for a community service project when she discovered PIFBS.

PIFBS distributes new and used gear to teams and communities across the world who are most in need, helping eliminate barriers for kids to play baseball and softball. Katie saw an opportunity to pay it forward.

“The first year, my town’s recreation department and another baseball program in a nearby town made large donations,” Katie said. “We had to rent a van, and my parents and I drove the equipment to (PIFBS) to drop off.”

Each year, Katie sets up a collection box at Teel’s Baseball & Softball Training Center in Wyckoff, NJ, where her club team plays. Her team sends out a message to all of the organization’s families to encourage them to donate, and the box stays out at the training center for about a month.

“I chose to hold the equipment drive in January, believing that when players received new equipment as a holiday gift, they could donate their old or outgrown equipment,” Katie said. “We are lucky to be able to get new equipment each year, and it seems like the perfect opportunity to collect this unwanted equipment for others who need it.”

The projects continue to be popular and successful, and members of the club programs look forward to contributing each year. Katie says she plans to continue doing equipment drives even after she begins college, and will likely hold them when she returns for Christmas break.

Katie has been playing sports as long as she can remember, and now plays first base on her high school softball team. She says that softball has given her a way to make meaningful connections and instilled in her the importance of hard work and believing in herself.

Sports have also taught her about overcoming failure and working together, lessons she hopes that other kids will have the chance to learn through the game.

“In softball, if you fail seven out of 10 times, you had a very successful performance. Being able to learn and grow after your failures is what makes you an even better player both on and off the field,” Katie said. “Softball has also taught me the importance of teamwork and communicating with others so that your team can perform better together.

“Being able to put your needs aside and focus on what the team needs is a very important idea to practice for the rest of your life.”