'Stay strong together': Cubs aiding relief efforts

March 27th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager David Ross expected to be in Milwaukee right now, focusing his attention on mapping out lineups and pitching plans for a season-opening series against the rival Brewers. There will be a time for that again, but baseball is not the first thing on Ross' mind at the moment.

On Friday, while a group of Ross' players continued their own efforts to help amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, Ross posted a message through the Cubs' social channels.

"I just want to take a minute," Ross said, "and thank all the healthcare workers out there for their tireless efforts during this difficult time. We really do appreciate it. For the rest of us, let's listen to the experts and wash our hands, practice social distancing and do our best to stay home when we can.

"Let's do our part so we can get back to Wrigley Field as soon as possible."

Cubs outfielder , whose Neighborhood Heroes foundation focuses on assisting first responders, teams with Cubs Charities to deliver Home Run Inn pizzas to police and fire department workers in Wrigleyville.

Schwarber, first baseman and outfielder are among the Chicago players to help out during this nationwide time of crisis. Rizzo has been sending meals to patients and workers at hospitals in Chicago and in his home state of Florida. Heyward made a $200,000 donation (split between MASK Chicago and the Greater Chicago Food Depository) to help feed families impacted by this situation.

"I just want to give a big shout to the Wrigleyville police department and fire department for serving the comunity through these hard times," Schwarber said in a video posted by the Cubs on Twitter. "It's not ideal, but we really do appreciate what you guys are all doing out here and making sure that everyone's doing their part to stay safe and get everything back up on their feet."

Rizzo's contributions through the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation (@RizzoFoundation on Twitter) have been helped by donations. A $20 donation for this Hope44 Meals initiative can be made by texting HOPE44 to 52000 or by visiting rizzo44.com/donate.

Rizzo recently went on ABC News to discuss his foundation's work, which has included sending meals to Lurie Children's Hospital and Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago, along with Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Florida. The meals provided have also been via local restaurants to help that impacted sector, too.

"We have served over 1,000 meals now to front-line workers and hospital workers," Rizzo said on ABC News. "A lot of these staff workers don't know if they're allowed to go to the grocery store and get basic groceries, because they really are quarantining outside the hospital just to stay safe and keep everyone safe."

Rizzo said the feedback from workers has been "amazing" so far.

"We've had pictures and videos of staff workers crying," he said. "The restaurants we have been serving are partners with us in the foundation, and have helped us out with one of our events. We have a cook-off every year. We really want to give back to the restaurants and also help the front-line workers, so it's really been a win-win, because there's a lot of people in tough times right now. And we're just trying to help out any way we can."

Given that Opening Day would have been on Thursday, Rizzo was asked what message he would give to fans who are at home and missing baseball as a needed distraction right now.

"I think it's just to stay strong together. We're going to get through this together," Rizzo said. "This is tough for everyone. We all want to be playing baseball. We all want sports on television. A lot of people want to be going to work on a daily basis and get back into that routine.

"So, while you're at home, take time to invest in yourself and get into a little routine that makes you happy. It's hard to be home 24/7, but everyone's doing this together, so you're not alone."