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Indians serve Thanksgiving meal to those in need
CLEVELAND -- That Daniel Siggers aspires to be a firefighter one day comes as no surprise to his mother, Elaine. After all, she has preached community service since her six children could crawl.

Well, there is another explanation for Daniel's dream.

"We've been pushing him in that direction so he could stop setting things on fire in the house," Elaine said, laughing.

On Sunday, the Indians' brass served a Thanksgiving meal to 300 people associated with four non-profit groups at the third annual Day of Giving at Progressive Field. The Siggers family attended on the basis of their involvement with Shoes and Clothes for Kids, an organization that provides free apparel to children in need in the greater Cleveland area. Daniel, 21, has assisted the program for eight years.

"A lot of times, it's people that are less fortunate or aren't able to get clothes or shoes for their children," he said, "so I think it's cool that we can do something to help and make a difference and make things better in some way."

The Indians also welcomed groups from Our Lady of the Wayside, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland and Guidestone. Members of the front office served 180 pounds of roasted turkey, 120 pounds of ham, 200 pounds of potatoes, 50 dozen cookies, green beans, sweet potato casserole, stuffing and three flavors of pie.

The quantity of food reminded Indians senior vice president of public affairs Bob DiBiasio of one of his family's Thanksgiving meals, which includes a few Italian courses before the large gathering feasts on some turkey.

"We have such a long-standing relationship with some of the organizations that are here that we think of them as family," DiBiasio said.

Indians CEO Paul Dolan and president Mark Shapiro greeted guests and checked coats at the entrance of the ballpark's Terrace Club. General manager Chris Antonetti delivered food to tables of appreciative people.

"When you work in baseball, you recognize that the game being played on the field is one part of it," Shapiro said, "but it's as important to leverage the team, players and organization and take advantage of the position that we have in the community to impact people positively."

Our Lady of the Wayside offers residential, transportation and social service to individuals with disabilities. Special events coordinator Danielle Danburg has helped the program craft a strong bond with the Indians.

"The residents look forward to this every year, so they enjoy coming out," Danburg said. "A lot of them won't get to go home for Thanksgiving, so this, for a lot of them, is their family time. To watch them walk in here, even though there is not a game on the field, it's exciting."

Guidestone provides avenues to improve the lives of 16,000 people across six counties in Northeast Ohio, 90 percent of whom live at the poverty level.

"Simple things for them like a Thanksgiving meal are just not possible for them with their financial resources," said Laurel Wirtanen-Siloy, the special gifts officer for the organization. "They take such pride in being able to attend here. They got dressed up. They said things like, 'I've never received anything this special in my life.' It truly touches a place in their heart. Sometimes it's tough to put into words just what this means to them, but it gives them a glimmer of hope and faith that tomorrow is going to get better."

Among Guidestone's attendees were Janet Gill and her 20-year-old son, Reggie Hite, who works two jobs and is progressing toward a degree in international business from Cuyahoga Community College.

"I see all of the families together and children who are less fortunate," Gill said. "You can talk with some of the other people who might have situations going on and want to discuss it with you because you're probably in the same boat as them, so you can open up and talk and mingle and find out what's going on and try to get the resources to help them."

Throughout the four-hour event, area bands played music and Slider and the team's hot dog mascots interacted with guests.

"We put this on the calendar and circle it every year," Elaine Siggers said. "It's just a joy to be here."

Zack Meisel is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel.

Cleveland Indians