A young boy tugged on a worn Greenbrier High School baseball cap so that it fit snugly, looked up at the player who gave it to him, and then to his friends.
"Sorry," he told them. "I'm with Greenbrier now."
The boy was one of about 20 children from the neighborhoods of downtown Augusta to take part in a baseball clinic last week at May Park.
Greenbrier baseball coach Chris Wilkins and his assistants and players helped lead instruction. But it was Wilkins' brother, Glenn, who was behind the idea -- and the turnout.
Glenn Wilkins has worked with Campus Outreach for nine years. When he felt the call to work with youth in an urban setting, he moved his family to Telfair Street.
"You can't reach urban neighborhoods by living in the suburbs," Wilkins said.
Wilkins has enlisted a team of college students, who moved into a house nearby for the summer.
The students split into two groups. One searched for the hangouts of area children; they found May Park and the Augusta Youth Center to be among them. The other half ventured into neighborhoods and interacted with the residents.
"We're trying to become part of the community rather than create a new thing," said Devin Johnson, a recreation major at Georgia Southern University. "A lot more kids start coming to our house, trusting us. They really feel like our house is a good place to be."
The students have welcomed their visitors, playing backyard football and rolling out the Slip 'N' Slide. Sometimes they attract 15 or more children.
The Mobilization Project, as it is called, is a partnership between Campus Outreach and First Presbyterian Church of Augusta. The participating college students are from throughout Georgia.
Johnson, who has a year and a semester remaining, said he would like to return to Augusta after graduation.
"I've really gained a vision, falling in love with these kids and this community, how loving they are," Johnson said. "I just want to be a part of it."
It was the relationships Wilkins, the students and others had developed that was largely responsible for the turnout at May Park for the baseball clinics. The other draw was the players in the matching green T-shirts and gray shorts emblazoned with the Greenbrier baseball logo.
Participants were split into three groups. Some participated in long tosses and fielding drills. Others hit baseballs from a tee.
And at home plate, Chris Wilkins was preaching the basics of base running -- how to take the proper arc into first and which part of the bag to use to make the turn.
During breaks, the children packed the home dugout, quizzing Wolfpack players and joking with the college students and each other.
A boy in black sandals stood out as he shuffled around the infield dirt. He wore black socks on each foot, the right sock ripped to reveal all five toes.
"What happened to your shoes?" someone asked.
The boy said he had been bitten by a dog.
The boy with the Greenbrier baseball cap became the envy of his friends. Inside the bill was written a Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 -- "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"The good things is these kids, because they don't have a lot, they understand what they're getting," Chris Wilkins said. "Hopefully, we'll keep it fun for them."
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