SAN FRANCISCO -- The holiday season provides a reminder that Jeremy Affeldt plays baseball for purposes that transcend winning.
The Giants left-hander has devoted himself to the non-profit foundation he launched in 2005, Generation Alive. Through this organization, volunteers have packaged literally hundreds of thousands of meals to be sent to poverty-stricken areas domestically and worldwide. The meals can be consumed by adding boiling water.
"I see the vision that I had, being an athlete and trying to make a change, come to fruition through Generation Alive," said Affeldt, 34. Earlier this year, he released a book, "To Stir A Movement," which examines how his life experiences prompted his humanitarian endeavors, including fighting hunger and human trafficking.
Affeldt recently roamed Spokane, Wash., where he lives in the offseason, to recruit a variety of youths, from elementary schoolers to collegians. On Sunday, Dec. 15, they packaged 40,000 meals, many of which will be distributed locally, as part of his "Something to Eat" initiative.
"It's just the perfect time to do it," Affeldt said. "To see these kids say, 'I want to help put a smile on people's faces,' it's such a selfless act."
Engineering such efforts gives meaning to Affeldt's professional career.
"I've been able to use baseball as a platform to get into these schools," the 12-year Major League veteran said, "and speak to the student body about what it means to be a true hero, what it means to be a true leader and what it means to be truly successful."
Affeldt was particularly encouraged not just by the younger volunteers' actions, but also by their attitudes.
"They're not resistant. They're actually absorbing it. They're grabbing it," he said. "They're saying, 'This is awesome.' They want to do this."
Affeldt believes that by fighting poverty, volunteers will learn the true definition of compassion.
"It's not just feeling bad. It's feeling bad with action," he said.
Ideally, Generation Alive's younger volunteers will maintain altruistic tendencies as they grow older and become adults.
"We're trying to develop leaders out of this," said Affeldt, whose credo is based around two passages from Scripture: "No man shall live for himself" (Romans 14:7), and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).
Affeldt's drive to help his fellow man never wanes. Next month, he'll visit East Palo Alto, Calif., to coordinate the preparation of 250,000 meals. And he has arranged for students at Gonzaga and Whitworth universities, both located in Spokane, to package one million meals on May 3.
"We're trying to fight local hunger as well as global hunger," Affeldt said, "but, if anything, it's just getting young people to understand what's going on the world around them."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.