ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals kicked off the holiday season early to accommodate online donations for their gift drive this year, and Tuesday was the last day to donate to Cardinals Care and organizations around St. Louis benefitting children this winter.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinals Care moved the ninth annual holiday gift drive online in 2020 and asked fans to donate money this year in lieu of the typical gift drop-off at Busch Stadium.
“Obviously, we weren’t able to do that this year, but we still wanted to try to provide, try to help in probably a time that the need may be greater because of what everybody’s going through with the pandemic,” Michael Hall, executive director of Cardinals Care, said. “We wanted to keep it going, and we moved it online. [Fans are] making the donation to Cardinals Care, and then Cardinals Care will write checks to our partner recipient organizations so that they can go out and purchase gifts themselves for the kids.”
Donations will help provide gifts and gift cards to children of military families at the socially distant Breakfast with Santa at Scott Air Force Base, as well as to Angels’ Arms, Annie Malone Children and Family Services, Marygrove and Southside Early Childhood Center -- all organizations that help children around the St. Louis area. The Cardinals decided to move up the gift drive from its usual time slot in early December to give the organizations time to buy the toys, supplies and gift cards themselves before the holidays.
Cardinals Care, the charitable arm of the Cardinals, has been able to continue its work in the community this year despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic. In July, the Cardinals donated $1.1 million to Harris-Stowe State University for renovations to Stars Park -- the former Negro Leagues ballpark and current site of the university’s baseball and softball teams. The renovation has already seen two fields installed with the surrounding area being finished this winter.
With the holiday gift drive wrapped up, the big focus now will be Winter Warm-Up, which will go virtual in January but still have the same goal of raising proceeds for kids in the community. And despite having to cancel the Redbird Rookie program -- a free, noncompetitive coed baseball/softball program -- this summer, Cardinals Care was still able to send the kids a gift for the holidays.
“It was a difficult year for everyone, and some more than others,” Hall said. “There’s been a need each year, and maybe this year’s need is even greater. So we didn’t feel good about not trying to do something.
“Hopefully, when are back to normal and all the restrictions are lifted and we’re doing the drop off and wrapping and all that, I still think we’d like to provide an online option. Because what we found through the pandemic is, there are a lot of people that want to give or donate, and there are Cardinals fans all over. A lot of times they can’t participate because they’re not in the area, but having things online sometimes gives those folks an opportunity to be a part of it as well.”