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Dreamfields highlight season of giving

Dreamfields highlight season of giving

Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting on what's good in life, and the Dodgers are doing just that as they are celebrating 50 years of the club's history in Southern California and a new grassroots venture for the future of baseball in Los Angeles.

The yearlong celebration of the team's 50th anniversary in L.A. hit a crescendo with Tuesday's announcement that the Dodgers Dream Foundation is committing to build 42 more Dodgers Dreamfields, a long-term effort that will bring the total number of fields to 50. 

The Dodgers Dream Foundation, which was founded in 1998, began creating the first eight fields in 2003. The baseball fields will be built in the Los Angeles area with the help of Los Angeles' Department of Recreation and Parks as well as the help of other local cities. The current Dodger Dream Fields are located at Culver Marina Little League, Seoul International Park, Algin Sutton Recreation Center, Montecito Recreation Center, Cheviot Hills Park, Bishop Canyon Recreation Center, Wrigley Field and the Evergreen Recreation Center.

But it's just one of the many ways that the Dodgers give back to the community each and every year. It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving time for the organization to reach out to children and Dodgers fans in the Los Angeles area.

The Dreamfields are part of the focus on youth sports and recreation that makes up the first-base portion of the Dodgers Dream Foundation, which has four "bases" or key areas of emphasis. The other bases:

• At second, the Dodgers focus on education and literacy with programs such as the Dodgers Scholars and Legends for Literacy.

The Dodgers Scholars program provides 42 college scholarships each year for $2,500 each. The Dodgers choose 42 scholarships in honor of Jackie Robinson so the 42 scholars are selected by the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

And the Legends for Literacy program has a former Dodgers figure read to group of students at a local library, as Tommy Lasorda, Chuck Essegian, Wes Parker, Maury Wills and Tommy Davis participated this year.

• At third base, it's a focus on health with ThinkCure leading the way along with many visits to hospitals by Dodger players and coaches.

One of the biggest ways the Dodgers give back is through ThinkCure, which was created last year and is the official charity of the Dodgers. Its primary mission is to raise funds to support cancer research to help find a cure for the disease.

The Dodgers raised more than $2 million for ThinkCure when they hosted an exhibition game against the Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on March 29. And after donations reached $1 million for ThinkCure, it was matched by the McCourt family.

Even though it's a much smaller scale, Dodgers visits meant a lot to the patients at local hospitals such as the City of Hope, USC University Medical Center, White Memorial Medical Center, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and West Los Angeles VA Hospital.

Dodgers who made trips to hospitals include Lasorda, Davis, Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela, Ken Landreaux, Bobby Castillo, Ron Cey, Lee Lacy, Steve Yeager, Eric Karros, "Sweet Lou" Johnson, Russell Martin, Nomar Garciaparra, James Loney, Jeff Kent, Matt Kemp, Brad Penny, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Takashi Saito.

• And finally, at home, the emphasis is on the environment with the new Think Blue But Act Green initiative created this year.

Part of the initiative was the creation of a new, free Dodgers Trolley to and from Dodger Stadium from Union Station. From its creation in July 25 to the end of the season, more than 50,000 fans boarded the trolley.

The initiative also calls for reducing the use of electricity, water and non-biodegradable products while emphasizing the recycle of paper, plastic and aluminum.

And while it doesn't have to be Thanksgiving for the Dodgers to give back to the community, the club and its foundation celebrated the holiday by providing traditional turkey dinners to 600 Los Angeles families with Lasorda, Johnson and Ethier leading the distribution on Nov. 20.

The holiday celebration doesn't end there, as the Dodgers will also donate 300 traditional ham dinners in December as well, capping off a 50th anniversary season of giving.

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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