‘It goes far beyond lacrosse’: Bronx Lacrosse gives back to the community

Bronx Lacrosse players
Photo courtesy Bronx Lacrosse

In 2019, the boys and girls Bronx Lacrosse teams at Highbridge Green won the Middle School Athletic City Lacrosse Championships. Sadly, their season was cut short due to COVID-19.

However, Bronx Lacrosse is doing its part in giving back to the community. It set up a food security initiative, in which it has raised $50,000, with match contributions. It has also been checking in daily with its players.

Bronx Lacrosse players. Photo courtesy Bronx Lacrosse

Dan Leventhal, a former teacher and founder of the organization, understands these are challenging times, but even more for people in the south Bronx. Many in the area struggle financially, live in small overcrowded apartments, live in food deserts and experience one of the highest asthma rates in the country.

“We are committed to supporting our program participants and their families on multiple fronts, as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the south Bronx,” Leventhal said.

So far, $10,000 of the funds raised went to The Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation and their “Feed our Families” campaign and the remaining monies will help students and families that are part of Bronx Lacrosse.

Leventhal told the Bronx Times he and his staff conducted outreach to better understand each family’s situation and the level of help they require in order to distribute basic necessities, including hygiene, cleaning supplies and food. He noted that many of the families don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

“We want the community to know we’re there for them,” he explained. “I know we had to do more for our families during this time.”

So he reached out to local supermarkets and purchased gift cards for families.

“Obviously this isn’t in our normal budget,” he remarked.

After winning the championship last year, the kids were really looking forward to this season, he said. Although there isn’t a chance for a repeat, Bronx Lacrosse has rolled out successful daily virtual programming to keep their participants active, on top of their school work and in a positive mindset.

The staff has stayed in touch with the youngsters via Facetime, Google Hangouts and Zoom, implemented a tutoring program and giving them work outs and lacrosse drills to do at home.

Leventhal understands the teens miss playing lacrosse, but mental health is more important right now.

“There’s a sense of loneliness,” he said. “We try to do these group chats and keep these kids engaged. For the most part we’re trying to make sure our kids stay positive. It goes far beyond lacrosse.”