A young Carlos Carrasco spent each Christmas Eve writing the perfect letter to place under the tree so that Santa could find the wish list overnight. The following morning was filled with excitement, as Carrasco would race to the tree to see his desired toy sitting where he placed the
A young Carlos Carrasco spent each Christmas Eve writing the perfect letter to place under the tree so that Santa could find the wish list overnight. The following morning was filled with excitement, as Carrasco would race to the tree to see his desired toy sitting where he placed the note just hours prior.
Christmas morning can be one of the most exciting times of the year for young children. But it didn't take Carrasco long to realize that not everyone was fortunate enough to celebrate the holiday by opening presents. Growing up, the Indians pitcher said he noticed a lot of people who would go out of their way to help children at all times of the year, and he made it his goal to do the same.
Although his work is done year-round, the holiday season holds a special place in Carrasco's heart. Through his Carlos "Cookie" Carrasco Children's Foundation, the hurler ships toys to areas in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to help brighten families' holidays.
"I really like [to help during] the holidays, because I know that there are children who do not get toys," Carrasco said. "That's why we're there."
Many of the gifts have already been sent, and almost all of the remaining toys will reach their destinations before Christmas Day. Carrasco has provided families with holiday gifts for the last few years and said he will never forget seeing the kids' faces for the first time.
"I still have pictures from last year in Venezuela," Carrasco said. "A lot of the children are on the streets, so just to see their smiles is incredible."
Carrasco's work in the community stretches far beyond the final page of the calendar. He and his wife have traveled the globe to help children in need. This past November, the couple was in Africa delivering clothes and backpacks so that kids have an easier time going to school, after having done the same in India the year before. Over Thanksgiving, the Carrasco family delivered 75 plates of food to the homeless in downtown Tampa.
"Those people don't have anything to eat," Carrasco said. "Just to give them their food and, like I said before, the same way it is for kids, just bringing smiles and happiness made me feel great. I like to do it. I never get [tired] of doing it."
Besides the joy of helping people in need, what's most meaningful to Carrasco is sharing these experiences with his children. He wants to make sure his kids see and understand how important giving back to their community is and hopes they will do the same as they grow older. Although she may only be 7 years old, his daughter, Camila, seems to have wasted no time following in her father's footsteps.
"Something I remember is [two years ago] I was looking for Camila around the house and couldn't find her," Carrasco said. "She was in her bedroom cutting her hair and I looked at her and said, 'What are you doing? Why are you cutting your hair?' She said, 'I'm doing it so you can send it to the kids in Venezuela or wherever for cancer and all of that.' That made me cry."
Camila and her younger sister, Emma, 3, helped shop for the toys and load up the backpacks that were to be sent out to the other countries. Carrasco said Camila even took it upon herself to make a video, which he thought was "something unbelievable."
Carrasco said he's looking forward to having his extended family in town over the holidays to have more hands to help pass out food to the homeless near his home in Florida. The pitcher said he does not have to wait until a special time of year to help those around him. But, thanks to him and his family, more children in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will have a present under their tree in place of their Christmas Eve letters.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com.