Iowa boy hits home run with fundraiser for storm victims

Boy's baseball bats help Iowa storm victims
Boy's baseball bats help Iowa storm victims 01:41

Last Updated Oct 28, 2020 7:10 PM EDT

Few kids have ever stepped up to the plate for charity like 12-year-old Tommy Rhomberg. He sought to help victims rebuild from the massive derecho that hit Iowa in August with winds of up to 140 mph.

"We got kind of lucky with the derecho," Rhomberg said. "We didn't have, like, any damage, but just driving around town there were people with half their house destroyed, and I just wanted to raise money so we could help them, help people rebuild."

A friend's birthday was upended too because of the powerful storm.

Tommy Rhomberg
Tommy Rhomberg poses with several baseball bats. Rhomberg family

"I knew his favorite sport was baseball, and I thought it'd mean a lot to him if he got a baseball bat for his birthday," Rhomberg said.

So, the 12-year-old decided to make him one — by hand — and called it "The Great Derecho." When word got out, others wanted homemade bats too, including his mom, Amanda Rhomberg.

"I kind of thought, 'Oh, shoot, Tommy. I think I would like one. Would you make me one?' And he told me 'no,'" Amanda Rhomberg said while laughing. "He still had blisters on his hands."

But it gave Tommy an idea. What if he made bats out of wood brought down by the storm? His family bought a lathe and so far have made about 115 bats and donated more than $2,500.

When asked how that made him feel, Tommy Rhomberg replied, "I feel like it's really helping people."

Tommy makes the bats after he's done his homework and on the days he's doing school virtually.

"I almost feel like this is a school in itself, you know?" his mom said.

And he's certainly got a hit on his hands.

Snowman baseball bat
A snowman holds a small homemade baseball bat. Rhomberg family
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    Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.