Dodgers' giving spirit has many facets

Dodgers' giving spirit has numerous facets

LOS ANGELES -- The focal point of the Dodgers' charitable effort is the Dodgers Dream Foundation, which was founded in 1998 to provide educational, athletic and recreation opportunities for youth of the Greater Los Angeles community. The foundation places special emphasis on helping traditionally underserved youth.

"It is our belief that with focused energy, strong management and solid strategic alliances, the Dodgers Dream Foundation will continue to grow and have a dramatic impact on the community for a very, very long time," said chairman Frank McCourt.

This is traditionally an active time for organizational charity events, and this year is no exception.

The Dodgers, the Dodgers Dream Foundation and Ralphs/Food 4 Less Foundation provided turkeys and fixings to 500 families from Los Angeles City Council Districts #1 (Councilmember Ed Reyes) and #13 (Council President Eric Garcetti) this year. Ralphs/Food 4 Less Foundation has donated all 500 turkeys and Thanksgiving fixings for the event, which was held Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Dodger Stadium.

One month later, the Dodgers, the Dodgers Dream Foundation and Farmer John will be providing hams to 300 families from the same council districts. Farmer John has donated all 300 hams for the event, which will be held Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers and the Dodgers Dream Foundation will host 15 schools and roughly 250 kids to a holiday event at Dodger Stadium on Dec. 12. As part of the Dodgers Reading Dugout Program, each school will receive 100 books and a book shelf for their library. Kids will get a goodie bag with a Dodgers Dream Foundation t-shirt. During the event, Santa Claus will make an appearance, along with former Dodgers players. Meals will be provided for the children.

Another organization initiative that has received widespread acceptance is "Play Ball L.A.," created and sponsored by the Dodgers Dream Foundation and presented by Bank of America. Play Ball L.A. supports youth baseball/softball via clinics, appearances and direct contact between the Dodger club and the greater community.

To achieve its goal of establishing a strong foundation for youth baseball and softball throughout Southern California, "Play Ball L.A." focuses on five primary tenets: to actively encourage participation in youth baseball/softball programs; to facilitate increased communication and collaboration between youth baseball/softball organizations and the civic and corporate communities; to enhance youth baseball/softball education through instruction, demonstration and example; to inspire sportsmanship and promote fair play for today's youth; and to enlighten the region's youth as to the grand history and traditions of the game.

Below is a list of other community outreach events sponsored by the Dodgers in 2006:

The second annual Eric Gagne Dodgers Dream Foundation Bowling Extravaganza: This took place at Lucky Strike Hollywood on May 8. Gagne's teammates and celebrity friends joined season ticket holders and fans for a night of bowling, food and fun. Also, six patients from Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA attended the event and met Gagne and the Dodgers. The event raised more than $80,000 for the Dodgers Dream Foundation. A portion of the proceeds went to Gagne's favorite charity -- Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

The fifth annual Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Invitational: This was held at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes on July 27. Dodgers players, coaches and legends joined corporate guests for a golf outing, auction and dinner event that raised $135,000 for the Dodgers Dream Foundation.

Dodger Youth Baseball Camp: The 2006 Dodger Youth Baseball Camp at Dodger Stadium presented by Blue Cross of California Foundation was attended by more than 270 boys and girls. The camp consisted of daily instruction by the Dodgers' coaching staff, as well as visits by Dodgers players. As part of Blue Cross of California's sponsorship, 40 campers from Hollenbeck Youth Center received a free scholarship to camp. Actor and Dodgers fan Freddie Prinze Jr. also gave scholarships to 20 youngsters.

Pat & Lesly Sajak Foundation Strikeout Program: During the 2006 season, every time a Dodgers pitcher struck out an opposing batter, the Pat & Lesly Sajak Foundation donated $100 to the Dodgers Dream Foundation. The final tally was 582 strikeouts and a $58,200 donation to the Dodgers Dream Foundation.

Dodger Dream Fields: Through the Dodger Dream Fields program, the Dodgers Dream Foundation spearheads new field development and renovations of youth baseball and softball fields in the greater Los Angeles area. Since the inception of this program, seven Dream Fields have been completed. In 2006, Dream Fields were christened at Evergreen Recreation Center and Seoul International Park. The Seoul Dodger Dream Field was a $1.2 million project with funding from the State of California, the City of Los Angeles and the Dodgers Dream Foundation.

Team 42 Scholarships -- Following in the footsteps of a hero: The legacy of civil rights pioneer and legendary Dodger Jackie Robinson lives on with the Dodgers' commitment of $1 million to fund the "Team 42" scholarship program, which annually awards college scholarships to 42 Los Angeles-area minority students.

PLAY Program: This past summer the Dodgers held their first PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Clinic at Dodger Stadium. PLAY is a program of PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society) along with its partner, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and the American Diabetes Association. The campaign, which was brought to nine other Major League Baseball parks throughout the 2006 season, is designed to teach children and their families about the importance of regular physical activity and a healthy diet as a means to prevent obesity and its related diseases and conditions. Dodgers players, team doctor and training staff participated.

Hospital events: The Dodgers visited White Memorial Medical Center and Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Also, the Dodgers Dream Foundation gave $25,000 to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Participants included J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Rafael Furcal, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin and Frank McCourt.

WIN Program: The Los Angeles Dodgers Women's Initiative & Network (WIN), created by Dodgers president and vice chairman Jamie McCourt, is focused on providing women of all ages and backgrounds with unique opportunities to learn about the sport, participate in the Dodger Stadium experience, and contribute to the community and the national pastime in innovative, meaningful ways. Launched in May 2005, WIN offers women special access to the game experience through events and ongoing programs, including baseball clinics, seminars, and forums involving Dodgers players, coaches and staff. WIN takes an active role in promoting community involvement and educational programs, and gives women invaluable professional and social networking opportunities.

Winter Caravan: The 2006 Dodgers Caravan perpetuated the team's long standing commitment to community outreach. The two-day caravan provided fans with an up-close-and-personal opportunity to meet and hear from the caravan members, participate in question-and-answer sessions, see demonstrations of professional baseball skills, procure autographs, and win prizes. Participating players, coaches and executives included: Brad Penny, Nomar Garciaparra, Martin, Gagne, Kenny Lofton, Brett Tomko, Eddie Murray, Grady Little, Ron Cey, Bobby Castillo, Don Newcombe, Steve Garvey, Willie Davis, and Ned Colletti.

Equipment Drive: The Dodgers teamed with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to support the growth of youth baseball and softball with an equipment drive held during the Sept. 23 Dodgers game. All new and used baseball and softball equipment went to Belmont High School's baseball and softball programs. Through the Los Angeles Unified School District's partnerships and the Adopt-A-School Program, the Dodgers have supported Belmont High School since 1993. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund also awarded a $5,000 grant to Belmont High School to enable the school to purchase new equipment for the baseball and softball programs.

Speaker's Bureau: Through the Dodgers' Speakers Bureau, led by community affairs director Don Newcombe, former players speak at local non-profit, community and civic organizations to connect fans with Dodgers history and inspire generations of fans who love the game of baseball. This past year the Speaker's Bureau did more than 150 events.

Ticket Donation Program: The Dodgers donate tickets, promotional items and autographed memorabilia throughout the season to local non-profit organizations to assist with their fundraising efforts. Also, the Dodgers will donate up to 50 tickets per season to non-profit organizations looking to bring youngsters out to a ballgame. The Dodgers took part in the Commissioner's Initiative for Kids, which resulted in the donation of 50,000 game tickets for select August games to local non-profit organizations.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.