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13-year-old Valencia kid 'pays it forward'

Posted: July 11, 2014 7:34 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2014 7:34 p.m.

Hunter Ventress, 13, poses in his bedroom with his new glove and the food he's gathered so far for his "pay it forward" food drive inspired by the kindness of strangers. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

Thirteen-year-old baseball fan Hunter Ventress grinned from beneath his baseball cap Friday as he described how a lost baseball glove led to a food drive for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

A enthusiastic player on a travel team, Hunter lives and breathes baseball, according to his mother, Jennifer. So on Christmas morning when he opened his gifts to find the glove he had been coveting for months, Hunter was ecstatic.

“It was the one glove out of the whole store I really liked,” Hunter recalled Friday. Many times his family had to practically drag him from the store where it was on display.

“It never left his side until July Fourth,” said his mother.

On that unfortunate holiday weekend, Hunter, on his way to a friend’s house to stay over night, decided as he headed out of the yard to leave the baseball mitt at home. He dropped it on top of the family car and walked to his friend’s house.

In the morning, Jennifer Ventress got into the car to drive over and pick him up. The glove apparently fell off on the way.

Unable to find the missing mitt, the family turned to social media to widen the hunt, asking people around the community if anyone had seen it.



“There are so many people on Facebook who were so concerned about his glove,” said Jennifer Ventress. “That post was shared by people after people.”

The treasured mitt was never found. But Hunter’s story touched residents Jim Oge Jr., Heather L. Jones and Tammy Rompal, who decided to do something about the situation. The trio of good Samaritans did not know the Ventress family, but they got together and bought Hunter a new glove.

Sitting on the couch in the front room of his Valencia home Friday, Hunter described the kindness that he experienced from three complete strangers.

“A couple of days ago at practice, they came and brought me the glove,” said Hunter, looking down at his new black baseball mitt. “I was surprised, and I was really happy.”

“After my baseball practice, I got in the car and said that people are really nice, and I want to do this thing to help other people,” said the baseball enthusiast. “So I decided to do a food drive to help other people in need.”

Hunter’s drive to collect non-perishable foods for the SCV Food Pantry will run through Friday, and those interested helping Hunter “pay it forward” can collect their items and email Jennifer Ventress at or message her on Facebook to make arrangements for pickup.

Items most needed by the Food Pantry are canned tomatoes, ramen noodles, canned meat such as chili, peanut butter, tuna and disposable diapers sizes 4 and 5.

Of course, Hunter’s mother is proud of her son, but she’s also very grateful to the three strangers who showed him such kindness.

“I think Jim, Heather and Tammy all really stood up for my son and made this special for him,” Jennifer Ventress said. “I really appreciate what they have done.”



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