Sunday, April 19, 2015

Signatures for Soldiers giving a boost to military veterans through baseball

Tim Virgilio had found a way to celebrate two of America’s most prominent institutions, baseball and the United States Military. The Georgia resident has enlisted over 100 retired major league baseball players to donate autographed baseball cards to raise funds for Military Missions in Action. A project that started with some loose baseball cards around the house has quickly turned into a wide reaching charitable undertaking.

“I started Signatures for Soldiers in November, 2014,” Virgilio said. “It initially started as an idea to use some of the baseball cards that I had sitting around that I collected as a kid to get signed and sell to help raise money for charity. I’ve always enjoyed collecting autographs as a hobby and decided that this would be a fun way to try to raise a few dollars.”
Courtesy of Signatures for Soldiers
While Virgilio and his wife were living in North Carolina, they became involved with MMIA right around its inception in 2008. Impressed by the financially prudent work that MMIA was doing for disabled veterans and their families by providing home repairs and renovations at no cost, choosing to raise awareness for their cause was an easy decision.

“I’ve always had a passion for supporting the men and women of the military who chose to do a job that less than 1% of our population chooses to do,” he said. “MMIA has done great things for our nation’s disabled veterans by providing over $3.5 million worth of services since being founded, [while] keeping their administrative costs [less than] 10% annually. Because of how fiscally responsible they have been, I have chosen to make MMIA my charity of choice.”

In only six months, the response from the baseball family has been incredible. Many players not only jumped at the opportunity to be involved, they even furnished their own material for Virgilio to offer up to collectors.

“There are a few players who have really gone above and beyond up to this point in their assistance,” he said. “Jim Leyritz has been wonderful and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him on several occasions about this project and others. Woody Williams is another player who has been absolutely wonderful. I had quickly sold out of the cards that he signed and when I informed him of this, he then sent me 25 cards, 25 postcards, and 10 8x10 photos all signed from his own personal collection.”
Courtesy of Signatures for Soldiers

In addition to the players who have volunteered their time and effort to sign autographs for Signatures for Soldiers, the collecting community has rallied around the cause. Baseball fans and collectors have not only bought the autographed cards to raise money for MMIA, they have donated their own cards so that Virgilio could send them to the players to build the charity’s inventory.

“The response from [both the] fans and collectors has been awesome,” he said. “I’ve been able to help some collectors who have been trying to add a certain autograph to their collection. … I’ve had people who are fans of a particular player and don’t necessarily collect autographs, but have paid above and beyond what I’ve asked for the autograph because they are a fan of the player and want to help support a charity that does a lot of good for disabled veterans. I’ve had collectors who have donated extra signed cards that they’ve had in their collection for me to sell and raise money for MMIA. Overall, the support has been great.”

All of the proceeds that Virgilio has raised goes directly to MMIA. As of this writing, he has raised over $3,000, which was his original goal when he started Signatures for Soldiers. Surpassing that amount in less than six month, fueled by an overwhelming response from his supporters, he has plans to expand the program as the baseball season progresses.

“I’ve had to rethink my goal for this whole program,” he said. “I’ve focused primarily on retired players and the response has been great. Since the season is underway, I’m really going to reach out to more active players to see what type of support I may be able to receive.”

While the program has quickly expanded much faster than Virgilio had imagined, he plans to push forward as long as the journey will allow. It has been an enjoyable ride that he doesn’t plan to abandon for the foreseeable future.

“I’ve had so much fun with this and have had the opportunity to talk with such great people (both players and non-players),” he said, “that I just can’t see myself giving it up anytime soon. Plus, I have over 1500 signed cards and other items that I have to sell with more items coming in every day. Until I run out of items to sell, I plan to continue to do this.”

If you want to help Signatures for Soldiers, reach out to Tim Virgilio directly via e-mail -

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