SHORT HILLS, NJ - Short Hills teen Abhay Bhandari is combining his love for baseball and community service to help bring baseball equipment to kids in the US and around the world. Bhandari teamed up with his local coaches and training center to gather much-needed equipment for Pitch In For Baseball.  

Pitch In For Baseball® (PIFB) is a registered 501(c)(3) not for profit organization that provides new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to boys and girls in the United States and around the world who want to play ball but lacks the equipment. Over the past ten years, Pitch In For Baseball has donated more than $5 million worth of equipment to 500,000 under-resourced kids in nearly every state in the U.S. and 80 different countries internationally.

Bhandari moved to France in sixth grade and noticed how hard it was to get baseball equipment locally. "We would request a parent headed to the US in a business trip to fill up a suitcase with equipment and gear and carry it back, but that needed planning and online ordering," said Bhandari.

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Upon returning to the US, Bhandari resumed training and played for Montclair Kimberly Academy, but his experience overseas stayed with him. Bhandari was keen to do something that allowed him to combine his passion for baseball and community service. When he read about 'Pitch in For Baseball', it struck a chord. "It was all about opportunities and resources," says Bhandari, who had experienced first hand the difficulty in procuring equipment overseas even with no financial limitations. 

Bhandari was guided by Brianna Kuhn, Development and Communications Manager at Pitch in for baseball who registered his project, helped with ideas for fundraising and even provided templates for posters. Then he began a conversation with his school baseball coaches, athletic director, Dean of Student Services and friends. Receiving advice and encouragement, he initiated a community-wide collection, reaching out to his teammates, school, and Extra Innings, the baseball facility he trained at located in Hanover, NJ. Owners Mike Gallo and Mic Davis who support local community efforts, encouraged Bhandari by allowing him to place a collection box at the training facility. They went a step further and contributed numerous pairs of brand new baseball cleats.

Bhandari completed his initial collection and is ready to deliver it to the Pitch in for Baseball facility in Pennsylvania. Along with accomplishing a personal goal in a community, Bhandari is excited that players in the US and overseas will benefit from gloves, bats, helmets and other gear that will further their sport and passion. 

At the season end baseball banquet, coach  Spencer Pyke applauded Bhandari's effort and project pointing out that, "for a junior to take time out from school work, extra curricular activities to complete something that benefits others speaks volumes about him." 

Bhandari aims to make this collection become an annual feature. "I would like to be a small part in making it happen for other players who have passion but lack resources." He is also happy to share the process, his own experience and guide other younger players who may be interested in starting their own collection. 

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