With southern states still reeling from the effects of nasty storms wreaking havoc in the region, Southern League teams are collecting donations, volunteering assistance and providing their facilities for use in disaster relief efforts.
“The needs of families and businesses devastated by these storms will be ongoing,” said Southern League President Don Mincher. “I know our clubs will continue to assist them over the next few months. I certainly encourage everyone to get involved in these relief efforts whether it’s by making donations of money, clothes or household items, or volunteering their time to their neighbors in need.”
Here’s a team-by-team look at how players, coaches and front office staff are pitching in where needed to help their communities:
Birmingham Barons: Both the team and front office staff have worked Tornado Shelters as well as hosting nonperishable food drives during their last home stand. A silent auction of Major and Minor League items is planned for June with proceeds going to the Tornado Relief Effort.
Carolina Mudcats: The team worked with local television station WTVD ABC 11 to hold a Storm Relief Drive on April 23, collecting canned food, clothing and other living essentials to benefit the Salvation Army and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina. More than 1,000 fans donated 2,622 pounds of items for storm victims. Fans were also afforded opportunities to text donations to the Triangle Community Foundation. Four more charity drives are planned this season.
Chattanooga Lookouts: The team is soliciting donations from fans for their ongoing SunTrust Sundays event. Fans receive a free ticket for that day’s game with donations of canned food, benefiting the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. More efforts are in the works and will be unveiled soon.
Huntsville Stars: Joe W. Davis Stadium was open to the public during Huntsville’s recent days-long power outage. They made food and beverages available for donations to the Red Cross to the general public, and served free meals to rescue workers and first responders. The Stars served over 8,000 meals, partnering with Sodexo and several local restaurants. Over $3,000 in cash was raised when the Stars provided free parking and tickets in exchange for donations to the Red Cross at a recent daytime game.
Jackson Generals: The team is planning a silent auction in conjunction with the All-Star Game in June to raise money for those affected. More details should be available in the upcoming weeks.
Jacksonville Suns: Players and coaching staff spent their travel day last week in Pratt City, Alabama volunteering at the American Red Cross’ Pratt City Disaster Resource Center. They helped unload trucks and assisted in sorting and distributing donated items to disaster victims in this ravaged area.
Mississippi Braves: The team offered Trustmark Park as a drop-off location for supplies, netting five full tractor-trailers of donated items. They hosted a Salvation Army Night where fans brought in clothing and shoes for discounted admission, and have an Emergency Relief Trailer parked indefinitely at the front gates of their stadium to accept donations at any time. Mississippi’s parent club, the Atlanta Braves, contributed $100,000 to the Salvation Army on behalf of all their Minor League affiliates. Today, the entire Mississippi Braves team and front office staff will help the Salvation Army collect, sort and shrink-wrap for shipment supplies donated for the tornado relief effort. They are also putting together a plan to assist those who will be affected by the imminent flooding in Mississippi.
Mobile BayBears: The team haa been assisting the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama and dedicated a homestand to the Boys & Girls Club of Tuscaloosa, collecting shoes, clothing, personal hygiene items, blankets, pillows, school supplies, first aid supplies, books, toys and diaries. Bins were also available at the
ballpark to collect items that will be sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Alabama.
Montgomery Biscuits: The team is working with the American Red Cross of Central Alabama to promote donations and drop-off locations. They have committed in-game space on their outfield LED’s and scoreboard announcements to continue promoting the Red Cross throughout the remainder of the season.
Tennessee Smokies: Broadcaster Mick Gillispie, whose hometown of Tuscaloosa was one of the hardest-hit areas in the recent storms, along with broadcast assistant Alex Powell, both spent several days in Tuscaloosa helping to deliver water, clear debris and help people load what they could save into trucks. Gillispie wasn’t home when the tornado cut a swath of destruction through Tuscaloosa, but his wife was there, only a little over a mile from the tornado’s path. Luckily, his wife and his home were safe, but he knew he needed to go home and help his neighbors pick up the pieces of their lives.
“This was the worst thing that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gillispie said. “It’s a pain you have for everybody. When you see thousands of houses destroyed and people with missing loved ones, it’s really hard. It’s like going to a funeral every day.”
The league’s newest owners, Quint and Rishy Studer, who recently purchased the Carolina Mudcats (relocating to Pensacola in 2012), made a $5,000 donation to the Red Cross on behalf of the Southern League for disaster relief efforts. Their staff in Pensacola also coordinated a recent collection of monetary donations and useful supplies for Northern Alabama. The United Methodist Church of Gulf Breeze will deliver items to folks in North Alabama. Cash, checks and gift cards will be donated to the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.
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