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Cardinals Care donates to more than 100 organizations

Team's charity arm reported nearly $330,000 in grants in 2014

ST. LOUIS -- For all the attention garnered during a fourth straight trip to the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals also enjoyed a banner season off the field and out of the spotlight. And while it was executed with little fanfare, the organization's decision to pour its time and resources into the community made a key impact.

Cardinals Care, the club's charity arm, reported a distribution of more than $330,000 in grants to nearly 125 organizations in 2014. Handed out at two different junctures during the year, these grants were offered to nonprofit groups in the St. Louis area that work with children.

Those grants were funded through the donations collected from various events held throughout the year. Among them was a July 8 broadcast auction of one-of-a-kind experiences and the fifth annual Cardinals Care 6K and One Mile Fun Run. The race, which featured more than a thousand participants, alone raised more than $100,000.

The St. Louis RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Program was the beneficiary of the summer's 25th annual Ted Savage RBI Golf Classic, held at Forest Park Golf Course in St. Louis. With Cardinals Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Whitey Herzog among the celebrity participants, the tournament helped offset the Cardinals' annual $50,000 commitment to the local RBI program.

The Cards continued to invest in the Redbird Rookies program, which includes 21 leagues with 4,100 participants. In partnering with the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Blues, the Cardinals were able to offer a health fair for Redbird Rookie participants in July. Over 2,000 children attended.

The Redbird Rookies Readers program remained an ongoing summer initiative, and the Cardinals watched the first three of the 62 students to receive a Cardinals Care scholarship through the Redbird Rookies program graduate from college. This fall, the remaining scholarship recipients received an increase in financial assistance.

Other area students were impacted by the "Doin' It Right" program, which, over the last school year, reached over 37,000 kids in approximately 100 area schools with the message of staying in school, abstaining from drugs and participating in sports.

Cardinals Care is also on the verge of sponsoring its 22nd youth baseball field, this one within the Clinton-Peabody Public Housing Complex just south of Busch Stadium. The field will be dedicated in the spring and will bear the name of Hall of Fame manager, Tony La Russa.

Several of the Cardinals' most successful initiatives, though, were player-driven. On June 19, for instance, nine players (many of whom were accompanied by their spouse) spread out to visit children at four area hospitals. During those visits, each child was presented with a Cardinals Build-A-Bear teddy bear.

Peter Bourjos (Peter's Pals), Adam Wainwright (Wainwright's Winners), Jason Motte (Motte's Mob) and Trevor Rosenthal (Trevor's Troops) stepped up to participate in player-ticket programs. Through this initiative, players donated their time to meet with underserved children prior to six home games. All of the guests also received t-shirts, food and drinks while attending the game for free.

Rosenthal went a step further with his commitment, also agreeing to make a donation to the participating organizations based on the number of strikeouts he totaled during each month-long period of the season.

Separately, Motte and Wainwright brought their own player programs Major League-wide. Motte recruited players from each MLB city to support his "Strike Out Cancer" initiative through t-shirt sales. Motte also recently held his third annual "Strike Out Cancer" dinner and auction to raise money for the Jason Motte Foundation.

Seeking to help charitable organizations, both locally and globally, that provide basic essentials, Wainwright spread his "Waino's World Fantasy Football League" into other cities. Fans were able to play fantasy football against the likes of Max Scherzer (Detroit), David Wright (New York), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta) and Skip Schumaker (Cincinnati), while money was being raised for various charities.

Wives of the Cardinals' players had their own community fundraisers, including four grab bag events at the ballpark. Those raised north of $70,000 for four area nonprofit organizations. In volunteering at the Susan G. Komen race on Mother's Day, the wives helped raise close to $18,000 for breast cancer screening, education and patient navigation.

The Cardinals have two more charity events on the schedule before the season ends. Their annual gift drive will be held on Dec. 3 (6 a.m.-1 p.m. CT), with members of the front office collecting unwrapped toys and gift cards from the public at Ballpark Village. Donors will be given a Cardinals stocking with a stocking stuffer, coupon for a free Papa John's pizza and complimentary hot chocolate.

Those gifts will then be disseminated to partner agencies and by Fredbird during a Breakfast with Santa event at the Scott Air Force Base on Dec. 6.

Later that month, Cardinals Care will host a holiday party for children affiliated with several area nonprofit groups and the Redbird Rookies program. During that Dec. 18 party, each child receives two gifts and a visit from Santa.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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