ORANGE, Calif. -- Major League Baseball, the Angels, Rebuilding Together and Bank of America celebrated the grand opening of the rehabilitated facilities of non-profit organization Mary's Kitchen on Saturday, as part of the festivities of MLB All-Star Week.
It was a special and emotional day for all involved in helping renovate Mary's Kitchen, which provides food, clothing, and other social services daily to over 150 of Orange County's hungry, homeless and working poor, including 30 U.S. Armed Services veterans.
The finishing touches were put on the project with more than 50 volunteers painting, assembling picnic tables, cabinets and other furniture, as well as outdoor yard work and more.
It's all part of MLB's "Going Beyond" initiative, which is expected to raise $5 million for local and national charities as part of MLB's All-Star Week in Anaheim and the surrounding areas.
"This is more important in a sense that it leaves a lasting impression in the community and makes a lasting contribution," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president & chief operating officer. "Baseball is America's game and its national pastime, so Commissioner [Bud] Selig has made it a lynchpin during his tenure that it's a social institution and so we have a need to give back to the community."
DuPuy was joined at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the project by Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl, city of Orange mayor Carolyn Cavecche, Rebuilding Together President and CEO Bill Good, Bank of American regional executive Allen Staff and Mary's Kitchen board president Gloria Suess.
It helped celebrate the renovation of Mary's Kitchen, which now has a much larger walk-in freezer, more kitchen space and more picnic tables for the nearly 200 people who are served daily at the facility.
"We could never have done it without them," said Suess. "We tripled the size of the kitchen, we beautified the yard and now we have space and we can find everything. It's just so many practical things."
It was an especially exciting day for Suess and many other volunteers who have been with Mary's Kitchen since its inception in 1984, when 82-year-old Mary McAnena began serving the homeless in nearby Hart Park. Mary's Kitchen then moved to its current location in '94 with the help of the city of Orange and now it's better than the ever with the help of MLB, the Angels, Rebuilding Together and Bank of America.
"This has been unbelievable," said Sue Siegal, who has been volunteering with Mary's Kitchen for 24 years. "They've been great. Everyone has been fantastic helping out."
Bank of America and Rebuilding Together began doing work on the facilities on June 5 and after 770 hours of work by more than 150 volunteers, the renovation was finished on Saturday and will now better serve its visitors.
"In partnering with Rebuilding Together, we've had many volunteers to help rebuild Mary's Kitchen, which is very important," Staff said. "We've had volunteers here from Bank of America since June 5 so now we're just seeing the end result of a lot of great work."
Bank of America also presented Mary's Kitchen with a check for $75,000, while the Angels Baseball Foundation also helped with the efforts.
It's certainly an exciting week for the Angels, who host the 81st All-Star Game on Tuesday, and this was just another great event for the organization.
"Everybody focuses on the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby, but we're so excited to be a part of something bigger than the game and that's what this is," Kuhl said. "We're helping our community and the less privileged."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com.