SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A group of baseball lovers are collecting baseball gloves for a special trip to Cuba next month.
They are planning to surprise the poorest of kids who have very little to play with and very little to dream with
It started on one of his trips in 2016.
Parsons alls his effort "Gloves for Cuba" and has a Facebook page to post images and rally supporters.
On the first visit he said, "I had one suitcase filled with about 50 gloves."
He's now hoping to get enough to fill at least five suitcases.
"I got them from donations and thrift stores mainly . Thrift stores have been my go-to from the very beginning," said Parsons.
Prior to COVID one drive even had gifts for the little girls who didn't play but were not to be left out. They had kits with cosmetics and sample products of all kinds.
The trip goes to Havana , and out into remote fields.
" I did see a boy playing with a cardboard box and they were playing with a potato," said Parsons.
Parsons recalls the first delivery when he went right to the street kids "with no shoes on nothing so I brought a back pack with gloves and I found five or six kids I gave it to them and they immediately started playing with them and throwing the ball around."
For some he did some coaching, even though baseball is a well known sport in Cuba.
Parsons said, "I have to teach to teach them how to throw because they had never thrown a ball before or caught it in a mitt."
After seeing a crying boy when they came up short a glove, Parsons said
"that broke my heart and I saw where he was staying and I went back the next morning and gave him a glove and he was still crying. He was happy."
These donations are both new and used, large and small, left and right handed.
One of the Carpinteria drop off spots is Brew and Cue at 4954 Carpinteria Ave. and there's still room for more gloves or baseballs.
Recently during a collection, a Kenny Loggins guitar was a prize for raffle tickets to raise money for the extra luggage costs.
This is also a twice delayed trip by the pandemic.
Parsons said, "I was so heartbroken we had this trip planned out so well and we ended up ultimately losing our air fare."
Parsons is a professional photographer. He captures the images of the kids who get the gloves often in a spontaneous stop, in a once in a lifetime connection.
"We just get out of the van and start handing out gloves to kids and before you know it ya know we have about 20 kids surrounding you," he said. "But these kids are so innocent they are impoverished. This is a life changer. They sleep with these gloves under their pillows."
Those who donate gloves can also sign them for the kids.
One of Parsons old friends now with a ball team in Philadelphia called the Wildcats sent a shipment out, showing the support from a wide area.
"The kids ya know maybe one day when they grow a little older they will pursue a baseball career or college in the states," said Parsons. " That would make my day"
Parsons is not fluent in Cuban Spanish but one of those on board, Hector Hurtado is, and will help with the interpretation needs throughout the trip. Hurtado is a local musician and stage manager. He is currently on tour with Kenny Loggins. He grew up in Carpinteria and has supported the Gloves for Cuba effort since the start.
The gloves collected for this trip will land in Cuba on January 9th.
The donations still needed include more gloves and some large suitcases. Financial help will also pay for the baggage costs.
For more information go to: Gloves for Cuba or Brew and Cue in Carpinteria.