COLUMBIA — The Daniel Boone Little League baseball All-Stars fell short in their quest for a state championship, but they didn't leave Joplin without making their mark.
With a day off on June 30, the 12- and 13-year-old boys on the team still had a curfew of 10:30 the previous evening and a wake-up call for 8:15 the next morning.
Instead of heading for the diamond that morning, the team went to a warehouse stocked with mattresses. They spent the next four hours distributing those mattresses to Joplin residents affected by the May 22 tornado. Gale Blomenkamp, the team's manager, said that any resistance to early bed times and mornings went away as soon as the kids saw how they were helping.
"They told us the story — most of these people had not slept on a bed since the tornado occurred," Blomenkamp said. "They had been sleeping in tents and on floors. The boys were very excited to be giving back to kids and families who weren't as privileged."
Thanks to additional help from family members — about 30 people in all — the team was also able to sort and shrink-wrap pallets of donated diapers so they could be transported to and from a church in the area.
Blomenkamp said the volunteer work provided him the opportunity to show his players the real world impact of an idea he had been preaching as long as he had been coaching them: social responsibility.
"I'm always telling them that being an all-star on a baseball team means you're an all-star all the time," Blomenkamp said.
After seeing how willing and excited they were to lend a hand to those in need, he's sure his message got through.
"When one of the boys talked to me and came up to me and said 'this is social responsibility,' I had a big grin on my face."