Helping Works

Minidoka project will rebuild internment camp baseball field

Evidence remains of a military police station and reception building at the entrance to the Minidoka internment camp at the Minidoka National Historic site just east of Jerome, Idaho. The Friends of Minidoka nonprofit group is leading public education and restoration efforts at the old camp.
Evidence remains of a military police station and reception building at the entrance to the Minidoka internment camp at the Minidoka National Historic site just east of Jerome, Idaho. The Friends of Minidoka nonprofit group is leading public education and restoration efforts at the old camp. The Associated Press

The Minidoka internment camp, also known as the Hunt Camp, sits on a spare, dry expanse of land near Jerome. From October 1942 to August 1945, the U.S. government held more than 13,000 people of Japanese descent there following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The old camp has been the site of annual pilgrimages and a few remnants and relics of the internment era remain on the site, including a couple of barracks, various outbuildings and a mess hall. The Friends of Minidoka and Boise State University worked together recently to reconstruct one of the eight guard towers located around the perimeter of the camp.

Now the group, which works to educate the public about the internment and to restore the Minidoka National Historic Site, is partnering with the National Park Service to bring volunteers together to rebuild one of the camp’s 14 baseball fields on Saturday, May 28.

Mia Russell, director of the Friends of Minidoka, said restoration of the field will help visitors connect to the story of the internment as well as to understand the complexities of life and recreation in the camps.

“The restoration of the baseball field isn’t just a ‘feel good’ story, but it gives a picture of how people were able to carry something along,” said Russell.

Playing baseball and participating in recreation helped re-create some semblance of a normal life at a time when very little else was normal, said Russell. “It was a double-edged sword . For many children, being in the camp was the first time they had seen their parents have leisure time. It’s an interesting complexity of life at camp.”

The idea to restore a baseball field at camp came from two older men who had been held at the Hunt Camp as children with their families.

Russell and other organizers are inviting the public to be part of “Field-in-a-Day” at the site on May 28, either as volunteers or donors. In addition to volunteers to help with construction, setup, registration, refreshments, children’s activities and more, organizers are seeking donations of materials for the scoreboard, backstop, benches and bleachers; used baseballs, bats, gloves, and other equipment for future community use of the field; and WWII-era baseball equipment for educational use at the site.

If you would like to donate materials, sponsor a field element or sign up as a volunteer on May 28, email Friends of Minidoka at info@minidoka.org or the Minidoka National Historic Site at carol_ash@nps.gov. Donors can also send checks to Friends of Minidoka, PO Box 1085, Twin Falls ID, 83303 or give online at minidoka.org.

Donations will also be used to support both the Field-In-A-Day event and the dedication of the field on June 26. Any money leftover from the project will help maintain the field. The field will be open for use to visitors, school groups and special events.

‘The Neighborhood Game’ returns to Boise on May 14

The Boise Commons, a local nonprofit focused on civic engagement, hosts the event from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, in neighborhoods across the city. The Neighborhood Game involves teams of residents fanning out through their neighborhoods, attempting to complete as many game activities as they can during the three-hour time limit. Each activity involves learning about the neighborhood and interacting with neighbors. Possible activities: learning some history from a local person, making a chalk drawing, finding the names of four cats or dogs, and much more. Winning players will receive prizes donated by locally owned businesses.

The best news: the game is for all ages and participation is free. Get details on how to participate on the Boise Commons Facebook page.

Learn more about The Boise Commons online at boisecommons.org.

Cycle for Independence

The Treasure Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho hosts this 17th annual fundraiser family ride. Proceeds from the event, which features numerous routes to choose from, takes place May 21 beginning at Riverglen Junior High School in Boise. Proceeds will help support the summer BELL (Braille enrichment learning and literacy) Program, State Convention and transportation for members in need, and the organization’s scholarship fund.

For registration information and more, visit the Cycle for Independence Facebook page or contact event coordinator Earl Hoover at 208-965-0511 or email hoovere74@gmail.com.

Zions Bank invites public to nominate homes for makeovers

Zions Bank is inviting the public to nominate up to 25 of the homes its employees will spruce up with a fresh coat of exterior paint during the annual Paint-a-Thon service project in June.

Paint-a-Thon benefits low-income elderly, disabled and veteran residents in Idaho and Utah. Typically, homes are referred to Zions Bank by city and state housing agencies, aging services, community organizations and local churches. This year, Zions Bank is inviting the public to nominate qualified homeowners.

Get all the details online at zionsbankblog.com.

To qualify for consideration, homeowners must meet federal Department of Housing and Urban Development income guidelines. The average age of last year’s home owner was 75, with an average monthly income of $1,409. Home nominations are due by May 20. In addition to painting, Zions employees will provide yard cleanup, pruning, mowing, planting and minor repairs as needed by homeowners. The cost for all paint and supplies is contributed by Zions Bank.

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