D-backs getting into the holiday spirit

November 20th, 2023
Photo courtesy of Arizona Diamondbacks

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert's D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX -- The holidays are a lot of people’s favorite time of the year, but for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, it’s a chance to make magic in the lives of those who need it most with the money they raise throughout the year.

The D-backs recently reached $85 million in giving since the organization began play in 1998. It’s an accomplishment they value as much as the success they’ve had on the field over that time.

“We spend the whole season fundraising,” said Debbie Castaldo, D-backs senior vice president of corporate and community impact. “And it's the offseason when we really have the most joy of giving it all away. So this is the time of year when we go out and try and make a difference.”

The D-backs have a lot of players who make their offseason home in the Phoenix-metro area, and getting them to participate in the events the team puts on doesn’t require any arm twisting.

“We’ve been so fortunate in that our players want to participate, they really want to make a difference,” Castaldo said.

NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll is participating in a number of events. The outfielder even approached the community affairs department about finding the charities where he can make the biggest impact.

Photo courtesy of Arizona Diamondbacks

Here is a look at some of the events that D-backs players, coaches and front-office members will be participating in over the next month:

Nov. 20: St. Mary’s Food Bank Turkey Donation
St. Mary’s Food Bank Drop-Off Location
2831 N. 31st Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85009

The D-backs will donate 1,000 turkeys to help fill a need and to drum up support for last-minute donations. Right-hander Kevin Ginkel and first baseman/outfielder Pavin Smith will be part of the D-backs contingent.

Nov. 27: Fun At Bat School Visit #2
Joseph Zito Elementary School

D-backs Fun At Bat, supported locally by Whataburger, is an entry-level bat-and-ball program that promotes fun and active lifestyles for children while teaching them the fundamental skills of bat-and-ball sports. The Fun At Bat program is free for schools and school districts to adopt and includes the curriculum and equipment necessary for grades K-5.

Dec. 2: APS Electric Light Parade
7 p.m. MST
Parade starting location: Central Ave. and Montebello Ave.
Parade ending location: 7th St. and Indian School Rd.

This year will be the 35th Annual APS Electric Light Parade with the theme being "Light Up the Night." The 2.3-mile-long parade is free to families and is produced and coordinated by the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

“We have a number of players lined up for this because this year, we're celebrating our National League championship,” Castaldo said. “So fans will get treated to a handful of D-backs players out saying hello and thank you to the fans while celebrating our National League championship.”

Dec. 6: Homeward Bound Shopping Spree
The D-backs team up with Homeward Bound, a local nonprofit that creates pathways out of poverty for homeless families in the Valley. The D-backs will gift 40 teenagers from Homeward Bound a $250 shopping spree to purchase gifts and needed items to make the holiday season a little brighter. D-backs players and coaches will be paired one-on-one with teens to help create the ultimate shopping experience. It will be a night full of fun including dinner, shopping and gift wrapping.

“This one is always popular with our players,” Castaldo said. “My favorite part of this is when you have a kid that badly wants an Xbox or cell phone and instead buys a robe for their mom and a lamp for the house. You really see their thoughtfulness and desire to do things not just for themselves but their families.”

Dec. 9: D-backs Nike Jr. RBI Clinic #2
The D-backs Nike Jr. RBI program introduces youth under the age of 12 to baseball and softball, with a focus on the fundamentals. The program is free to all participants -- the mission is to reintroduce, revive, and rebuild interest and participation in baseball and softball among underserved youth in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley.

“There will be a surprise D-backs celebrity visitor for this one,” Castaldo said.

Photo courtesy of Arizona Diamondbacks

Dec. 13: D-backs Winter Classic, supported by University of Phoenix
Every December, the D-backs, in partnership with University of Phoenix, turn Chase Field into a winter wonderland with invitations out to deserving Title 1 schools for the annual Winter Classic event. Each student receives a brand-new pair of athletic shoes, two books, a book bag and a sweatshirt. Activities vary, but include the University of Phoenix Reading Corner, photos with Santa, D-backs Baseball Academy, dancing and more.

“This one was actually started by Randy Johnson 25 years ago,” Castaldo said.

Dec. 14: D-backs Branch Boys & Girls Club Holiday Party
The D-backs will host over 100 boys and girls (ages 6-16) at the 13th annual Holiday Party at the D-backs Branch of the Boys & Girls Club to celebrate the holiday season and receive a complimentary sweatshirt, toy and meal.

“We make sure that Santa delivers a brand-new toy for each of the kids,” Castaldo said. “This year, we’re also going to have a snow machine for the kids to enjoy.”