Jan. charity softball tournament organized for orphanage

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Picayune resident who grew up in the Dominican Republic is organizing a charity softball tournament on Jan. 9 to help orphans in her home country.

Daisy Whitaker said she was inspired to do something for orphans because of her church, Liberty Baptist, in Picayune. 

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“When I got involved in my church they had missionaries and I asked, ‘What missions do we do?’ And they were supporting missionaries and missionary work and they were sending money to Mexico or the Philippines … and I said, ‘I want to do something for my country,’” she said. 

Whitaker said it took her years to actually pick a project, and when she did decide to do something, she thought back to the street children who would run up to cars at red lights in Santo Domingo, the nation’s capitol. Some children in the Dominican Republic, she said, have no homes so they turn to prostitution or gangs for protection or they try to hustle on the streets and earn money by doing odd jobs. 

“It was very normal for me, when you stop at a red light, all these kids come up to me and try to wash your car or sell you stuff,” she said. 

Now, after several years of searching for a worthwhile project for Santo Domingo, Whitaker says she’s found the perfect charity: Ninos de Christo, an orphanage. The orphanage was founded by Sonia Hane, and the website’s origin story touched Whitaker. 

“I was reading the origin, how it started, and her story was beautiful,” said Whitaker. “When she was young. she ended up finding a baby in a dumpster and when she was bringing up this baby, she realized the amount of orphans in the Dominican Republic. … I loved the root and the foundation of how she started the orphanage. I guess it touched me.”

The orphanage is a registered nonprofit in the U.S., and it depends on donations for its operation. 

Once Whitaker picked out the project, she said she got to work organizing the softball tournament. 

“Instead of procrastinating, I went ahead and started this project, and what better way to raise awareness about the Dominican Republic and orphans than baseball,” Whitaker said.

Baseball is extremely important to the Caribbean nation, so much so that many Major League Baseball players come from the Dominican Republic. In 2013, Fox News reported that 89 of MLB’s 856 players are from the island nation.

The tournament is open to everyone, and Whitaker said the teams will be intramural. She is especially hopeful kids will sign up to play. 

“I want to bring young people,” she said. “I believe we live in an era when kids are growing up and they don’t have that humanitarian spirit. It’s all gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme. … I want kids to appreciate what they have.”

Also, Whitaker said she would like to make her softball tournament an annual event. 

“I want to start a nonprofit and do this where it’s every single year,” she said.

Whitaker said all the proceeds from the softball tournament will go toward the Ninos de Christo orphanage, and others.

“I also want money to go to some other orphanages in outlying areas that are poor,” she said. 

She wants to make it clear, her church isn’t involved in the project. 

“I didn’t want to get the religion involved, I wanted everyone to participate and I think this will turn into something big,” she said. 

So far, she said she’s got about 11 teams signed up. Whitaker said whole teams may sign up or individuals. 

For teams, the registration is $150 and for individuals it is $20, and there is no deadline. She said players can show up Jan. 9 at 8 a.m. and register to play a round of softball. 

In addition to the tournament, Whitaker is also collecting things for the orphanage. She will be returning to the Dominican Republic over spring break, and said the orphanage could use small things, including school supplies, hygiene products, and children’s clothing. 

For more information, contact Whitaker at 228-363-3798.