Empathy: the ability to understand and share in someone else’s emotions without necessarily sharing their experiences. Finding a way to put oneself in another’s shoes, so to speak, requires highly sophisticated emotional and moral compass. Our capacity to empathize with others, to understand without knowing firsthand, is what compels us to help others even when we ourselves have all that we need.
This is a difficult concept even for some adults to grasp, yet we hope that our children will grow to fully appreciate the importance of empathy in their dealings with others. Lucky for our kids who are inclined to throw and catch and swing a bat, they have some top notch MLB role models paving the way for them in the way of empathy and philanthropy.
Major League Baseball outfielder Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks spent one of his recent days off working alongside the team’s mascot, D. Baxter the Bobcat, to help in the fight against childhood hunger in Arizona. Even just one pro ball player and his mascot partner are able to make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of kids in the Valley area. By acting on their own empathetic urges, this two-man MLB team are helping to feed kids in need while inspiring kids everywhere to pay it forward.
Nationwide, 1 in 6 Americans faces hunger daily. In Arizona, that statistic translates to 1 in 4 kids that go hungry. Even with 600,000 kids receiving free or reduced lunches during the week at school, food is often spread thin at home after school and on weekends. In order to make a difference, Baxter and Parra, the dynamic D-Back duo, are teaming up with Kitchen on the Street to feed kids in need.
Parra helped pack 49,000 “Bags of Hope,” one for each seat in his home stadium. These bags contain meals to sustain hungry kids over the weekend, when a meal is not a guarantee. The D-Backs will be at it again, helping hungry children for their May 14th home game at Chase Field.
As an abstract concept, empathy is not the easiest to explain to kids. In fact, it makes much more sense to show them what it means to empathize with others. Follow the lead of the pros; spend a Saturday with your child volunteering locally. I promise, you’ll both learn a lot, and you’ll both enjoy the feeling of giving back to your community!