North County little leagues team up to help Camp Fire victims

ENCINITAS, Calif. -- Little leagues across North County are teaming up to help baseball and softball players who lost nearly everything in the Camp Fire.

On Friday, members of  Encinitas Little League got together -- but not for practice. Instead they met to do a little heavy lifting by moving boxes of equipment from their storage unit to a big yellow truck.

“We’ve got tons of bats, helmets, gloves, cleats,” team member Joe Burke said.

It is a truck now full of equipment that will soon make its way up north to Paradise, a small town almost completely wiped out by the Camp Fire.

Chico native Kevin Burke said it's a community he knows very well.

“I had a number of friends that I saw during the fires, escaping for their lives,” Kevin Burke said.

Heartbreaking images they saw on television inspired Burke and his 14-year-old son Joe.

“At that point my son and I decided we had to do something to help and what a better way than what we know? We live and breathe baseball and we knew that the little leagues and the softball leagues would be affected,” Kevin Burke said.

The two reached out to their little league in Encinitas and everyone thought it was a home run idea not to only donate money, but collect much needed equipment. Word about the good deed spread fast.

“Before you knew it all the North County little leagues were participating, bringing stuff over. We had Poway American Little League have their own equipment drive and help bring that stuff over,” Kevin Burke said.

Rival teams all of a sudden were joining hands.

“It’s cool how everyone’s come together. I mean we’ve played each other and it’s cool how our whole district in the San Diego area has come to help,” Joe Burke said.

It's an experience the teammates are all learning from.

“It taught me I should help more and it really makes a difference because, just the idea. We made a huge difference in their league,” Joe Burke said.

Paradise Little League President Pam Beauchamp sent FOX 5 the following statement:

"We are overwhelmed by the generosity of people who want to support our league. The Paradise Little League board decided early on that we would try to have a season, to play as Paradise, to keep the kids together.  With a lot of hard work, dedication and help from leagues both near and far, Paradise Little League will play just like we always do.  We are that little town up on the ridge, Paradise."

Before hitting the road, the Encinitas Little League will once more collect equipment from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Ecke Sports Park Saturday afternoon. The equipment is expected to arrive in Paradise on Sunday. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the Paradise Little League.

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