Tim Virgilio has turned what was once a hobby, into helping those that currently serve or have served in our nation’s military. This month’s “Charity Spotlight,” is on a great cause named Signatures for Soldiers. We had the opportunity to speak with Tim about the story behind Signatures for Soldiers.
“I’ve been a baseball and sports fan my entire life. When I was growing up in my teen years I started collecting autographs, it was a neat way for my father and I to connect.”
Back in 2007, Tim and his wife moved to North Carolina where they met Michael Dorman, who is the founder and Executive Director of Military Missions In Action. They first got involved as volunteers, then helping to raise awareness, raise funds and finally were asked to serve on the Board of Directors.
A job opportunity would bring them to Georgia in September of 2014, but he wanted to continue to support what MMIA does from his new home.
“Like any non-profit, money is always a good thing. It’s always something that they’re looking for. I have all these baseball cards that I collected as a kid, let me go ahead and start to reach out to players and see if they would be willing to sign a few autographs.”
In turn, Tim would sell the autographs with 100% of the money going to MMIA. The initial goal was to hopefully raise a couple hundred dollars because anything helps. That goal quickly became $3,000 as he had seen the potential in what he was doing and that’s the average cost of materials used to build a wheelchair ramp.
Within a couple of months, Tim had reached his goal of $3,000 and it took off from there. He currently has raised about $6,000 just from his fundraising efforts through autographs.
The baseball community is very good about giving to charities and to the community. For Tim, he has found great support for the cause with many current and former players in both the Major and Minor Leagues.
“Originally I was like ok, they’ll sign one or two. I have guys that literally say you send me anything and everything. As long as you need to, as long as it’s for this, I’ll sign all day.”
“Mitch Williams was a guy that jumped on-board recently. I asked him if I should set a limit on what I send him? His response was ‘I will sign until my hand falls off and then I’ll find another way to sign.'”
Word of mouth has also served as a great vehicle to accomplish the mission, as guys have told other guys and that has snowballed the process. The players have shown strong support for the cause by donating their own items and signing many autographs.
Rangers prospect Jose Trevino recently struck an emotional cord with Tim, when he sent this tweet:
— Jose Trevino (@JoseTrevino5) November 30, 2015
“Where the emotional part comes in, is that I’m very clear with these guys. I’m not asking for any money from them, I’m not asking them to put themselves out or anything like that. I’ll collect the cards, I’ll send it to them with return postage. I don’t want these guys to ever think that I’m taking advantage of their generosity. It really overwhelmed me that he (Jose Trevino,) doesn’t know me, yet he’s willing to be so generous for a cause like this.”
You can get involved with Signatures for Soldiers by spreading the word through social media or sending signed or unsigned baseball cards. Tim currently ships the memorabilia and cards to the players out of pocket. Each package includes postage, a return postage paid 6×9 bubble envelope and a blue Sharpie for the player to autograph with. Those costs certainly add up over time and donations of those products would also be very helpful.
All of us at Clubhouse Corner proudly dedicate this month’s “Charity Spotlight” to all of the men and women, both past and present, that have served for our nation’s armed forces.
Signatures for Soldiers can be reached at signaturesforsoldiers.com or via email at email@example.com