COMPTON, Calif. -- Major League Baseball's Youth Academy and its partners helped put a meal on thousands of Los Angeles-area dinner tables this Thanksgiving with the city of Compton's 13th annual turkey giveaway.More than 2,000 turkeys were distributed Tuesday through the giveaway, which was hosted at the academy in conjunction
COMPTON, Calif. -- Major League Baseball's Youth Academy and its partners helped put a meal on thousands of Los Angeles-area dinner tables this Thanksgiving with the city of Compton's 13th annual turkey giveaway.
More than 2,000 turkeys were distributed Tuesday through the giveaway, which was hosted at the academy in conjunction with area politicians; Compton College; the local chapter of Omega Psi Phi, the nation's first African-American college fraternity; the Dodgers and the Angels as well as both Southern California clubs' charitable foundations.
"This is what we do best, is serve," said former Angels player Darrell Miller, who's now serving as MLB's vice president for youth and facility development and helped establish the Compton academy in 2006. "Part of our whole staff's mentality is to understand that we're serving this community."
What began 13 years ago with about 200 turkeys has expanded to now serve thousands, outgrowing its previous home on the steps of Compton City Hall and moving to the academy for the last six years.
"It was just to help our community out and to try to give love during the holiday season," said former California senator Isadore Hall. "Here we are today with MLB Youth Academy and a partnership doing some great things here in the community. We're very excited about it, and since MLB came on board, things have grown exponentially."
"We see a lot of people here, [but] it also makes you tear because you see that there's a need," Hall said. "It's a serious need. ... This is just a reminder that there are still people hungry and we still have a lot of work yet to do."
For Raymond Hale, Tuesday's giveaway will allow him and his sister to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for their mother, whom Hale cares for at home.
"Thanks to this, we're going to be able to go ahead and have a wonderful family-oriented Thanksgiving," said Hale, a Compton College student pursuing a new career now that his children are grown. "I hadn't even thought about buying a turkey, so I'm very lucky."
The Angels contributed by donating turkeys and side dishes, and Dodgers alumni Dennis Powell and Ken Landreaux were on hand to assist with the giveaway. Powell pitched in parts of eight seasons in the Majors, beginning his career with the Dodgers in 1985. Landreaux, a former center fielder and an All-Star in 1980, spent 11 years in the big leagues, including seven with the Dodgers from 1981-87. Landreaux now serves as an instructor at the academy, and both players are fixtures in the community.
"It's always a great opportunity just to give back," Powell said. "Just to see so many people out, to be able to provide a meal for them, it blesses my heart to be a part of an organization that can do such great things."
The MLB Youth Academy provides free, year-round baseball and softball instruction as well as educational and vocational training for underprivileged youth. The success of the Compton academy led MLB to open additional facilities in Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"They're taking kids off the street, they're teaching them baseball, they're teaching young ladies softball, and to have that in your backyard, in your community, it's just a great asset," Powell said. "So I hope people really take advantage of it."
The academy's impact extends beyond the baseball field, however, providing support and outreach for Compton and the surrounding communities with events like Tuesday's giveaway.
"It means sharing, caring and giving back to the city," said Compton native Barbara Sanford, who plans to host about 30 people Thursday. "I can take this turkey home and I can feed many people for Thanksgiving."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.