11/23/11 4:00 PM EST
Dodgers' giving campaigns continue in full force
Club's community assistance programs reach new heights
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The series of annual holiday events -- Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway on Nov. 15, the Dec. 8 Holiday Party at Dodger Stadium and the Holiday Ham Giveaway on Dec. 15 -- continue the club's tradition of giving back, augmented with an additional donation of thousands of promotional items to 40 non-profit organizations for underserved families in the Southland.
In 2011, the Dodgers and the Dodgers Dream Foundation assisted more than 3,800 charitable organizations by renovating baseball fields in the community, through player appearances, and by donating more than 100,000 tickets, autographed memorabilia, used equipment and much more. Last season, the Dodgers and the Dodgers Dream Foundation affected thousands of local youth through its various programs.
Throughout the year, the Dodgers Dream Foundation -- in partnership with LA84 Foundation, the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks and Los Angeles County -- completed seven new Dodgers Dreamfields in the Los Angeles area, with three more in the works. That will bring the current number of Dreamfields to a total of 20, with a goal of 50 fields in recognition of the club's five decades in Los Angeles.
The investments in existing fields include: upgrades to the backstops, the addition of roofs over the dugouts, bleacher and bench upgrades, irrigation improvements, regrading to ensure smooth and consistent playing surfaces and renovation of field turf or, where necessary, installation of new sod. A new feature of the Dreamfields will be a solar-powered scoreboard, with the tagline "Think Blue, Act Green."
Following each Dreamfield dedication, a clinic is held with Dodgers alumni and players.
The Dodgers Dream Foundation accepts public nominations for future Dodgers Dreamfield sites at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An important new initiative this year was the honoring of a Veteran of the Game at every home game, recognizing an active, reserve or retired member on the field during pregame ceremonies. This season's honorees included a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a Navy Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist and a military police officer serving in the "Honor Guard" protecting the President of the United States.
As a salute to members of the armed forces, the Dodgers offered complimentary tickets for the month of May to all members of the joint services with a valid military ID, including active, reserve and retired veterans as well as their dependents.
The club also offered a discount to all military personnel and their families. Military spouses and dependents are included in the Dodgers' military discount program, and each armed services member can purchase up to eight tickets per game. For the past 12 years, the Dodgers have donated 10 season tickets to a group of military veterans called the California Paralyzed Veterans Association that is based in Long Beach, Calif.
In April, a contingent of Dodgers including manager Don Mattingly visited the United States Special Warfare Training Center in San Diego, where the U.S. Navy SEALs train. The team also hosts SoldierCare, an organization dedicated to supporting and mentoring young wounded veterans, at a home game each season. In addition to all military programs, the Dodgers donated more than 17,000 tickets to the military, military support organizations and veterans organizations.
The Dodgers Dream Foundation supports education through a number of programs including the Team 42 scholarship program, the Team Think Blue program, CSU Northridge's Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Endowment and the L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Programs.
As part of a long-term partnership, DDF makes an annual financial contribution to support the Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Endowment at CSUN, while also providing an internship opportunity within the Dodgers' medical department each season for a student from the university's physical therapy program.
The Team 42 scholarship program is a $1 million commitment that annually awards 42 college scholarships to minority students selected by the Jackie Robinson Foundation. These scholars are invited to Dodger Stadium every year on Jackie Robinson Day for on-field recognition during pregame ceremonies.
The Dodgers, Dodgers Dream Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and the Los Angeles Times in Education again joined forces in 2011 for the annual Team Think Blue Program, which helps students throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Orange counties improve their literacy and language arts while encouraging the development of a healthy and active lifestyle. The Dodgers have participated in the Times In Education Program for 15 years, and this is the fifth year under the name Team Think Blue Program.
The Dodgers paid tribute to Robinson on April 15 on the anniversary of his breaking the color barrier. Jackie Robinson Day began with a panel discussion at Crenshaw High School. Special advisor to the chairman Don Newcombe, a and former teammate of Robinson, moderated the panel, which included "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Marcus Thames, Tony Gwynn Jr., Xavier Paul and prospect and Crenshaw High School alumnus Trayvon Robinson.
The group spoke on Robinson's legacy and the historic changes that he affected on society. The Dodgers also donated tickets to the entire Crenshaw High School student body for a Crenshaw High School Night on June 13. Prior to the April 15 game against St. Louis, the Dodgers' Team 42 scholars were joined on the field by Newcombe for a pregame tribute to Robinson.
The Dodgers also rallied to the aid of those stricken by disaster and injury in 2011.
The Dodgers and NBC LA held a "drive-through" relief event at Dodger Stadium on March 15 to help raise money for the American Red Cross' efforts in response to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan earlier this year. The team collected donations before an exhibition game at Camelback Ranch Glendale in Arizona. Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who started the Spring Training game on March 19, made a large donation and signed autographs for donors when he was removed from the game.
Players also signed autographs for fans prior to a game to help raise funds and awareness for the Southern United States tornado relief efforts and the Salvation Army.
The Dodgers, American Medical Response and the team's media partners, KCAL 9, Prime Ticket, KABC 790 and Univision Radio, in addition to the Los Angeles Times, held a "drive-through" relief event at Dodger Stadium on April 11, for Giants fan Bryan Stow, who suffered critical injuries in an Opening Day attack.
The club continued to hold many of its popular local events -- the preseason caravan, the 16th annual Job Fair, The James Loney State Farm Bowling Extravaganza, the DDF Charity Golf Tournament, youth baseball camps and hundreds of community appearances by Dodgers alumni.
Loney also was joined by Fernando Valenzuela and Chad Billingsley in sponsoring programs supporting children's groups. Andre Ethier continued his relationship with the City of Hope Hospital and Union Rescue Mission.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.