Can an organization based on making friends and providing a means for people to have fun after a hard day at work be philanthropic? For Sarah DeLucas, president of Major League Bocce, the answer is yes. DeLucas said giving back to the community was something she wanted to do when her and her friends developed the league back in 2004.
The league began in Washington, D.C. and spread to Maryland before making its way to Philadelphia. After a couple years in other parts of the city, Major League Bocce is coming to the Northeast in May, and will be based in Somerton
“When we first started, this was just going to be a hobby of ours and we weren’t planning on making it any sort of business,” she explained. “So we decided to incorporate as a nonprofit and the money we ended up bringing in, we wanted to ship it right back out and send it to charities and into the community.”
Teams who win their respective divisions will receive anywhere from $250 to $500 to donate to a charity of their choosing. DeLucas noted the charities teams typically donate to consist of the more popular ones, like the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Red Cross. However, this doesn’t mean people don’t find interesting ways to donate the money they win.
“One team this one year used their winning donation to buy a goat and something like five chickens and some other farm animals for a family in Africa,” DeLucas said.
Learn more about Major League Bocce and how to get involved in the Northeast:
For some of the league participants, like Tony Wu, being able to donate to a charity is icing on the cake. “On the one level, you get to have fun with your friends. But then in the end, the fun you’re having is for a good cause,” Wu said.
Wu, who works for a cancer research facility, said his team has not decided where the money will go if they win their division, but it would likely go to cancer research.
Tina Penrose, who has been a participant in the league for three years, mentioned the organization doesn’t just raise money for charity through division play.
“We hold fundraisers as well. One year we had a Valentine’s Day thing so you could buy Valentine’s gifts for your team members or friends that you made in the league and that money went to the American Cancer Society,” Penrose said.
DeLucas said, ever since the organization started keeping record a few years ago, Major League Bocce has raised $110,000 for charities all over the world.
Ryan McDonald is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.