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For Twins, 2014 a year of giving

Club raises $8 million during All-Star week in addition to annual events

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bryan Donaldson has been working in the Twins' community relations department since 2000, and he can't remember a busier year than 2014.

The Twins hosted the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field, and with it came numerous charity events that raised a record $8 million for the local community. And that was in addition to the usual charity events the Twins host throughout the year, including Hope Week in May and the upcoming Holiday Week of Giving, which starts Dec. 8.

"It was an incredibly busy year," said Donaldson, who is the Twins' senior director for community relations and the executive director of the Twins Community Fund. "As part of the All-Star Game, we gave away $8 million to local charities, which is more than we've ever done. It was lot more of an undertaking than we're used to, but it was a great opportunity and we were excited to do it. To be able to make a gigantic impact on the community was rewarding and outweighed all the extra work that went into it."

Twins owner Jim Pohlad was the one who challenged the organization to break Major League Baseball's record for most money raised for charity from hosting an All-Star Game. The donations were made through MLB Charities, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Family Foundation

So it was up to Donaldson and his team -- along with team president Dave St. Peter -- to work hand-in-hand with MLB to find the right charities to work with during All-Star week.

The projects supported several youth baseball field renovations, impacted the lives of underserved youth and local veterans, placed a focus on improving the health and well-being of local citizens, supported cancer research and highlighted the importance of environmental consciousness.

Video: Trout Brook rail yard getting revamped in St. Paul

One of the major points of emphasis was to create long-lasting effects in the community, which led to renovating a Boys & Girls Club and a Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis and a seven-acre woodland at Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul. Four new youth baseball fields were also constructed, as well as a Miracle Field for children with disabilities.

"The focus was more bricks and mortar and things that can stand the test of time," Donaldson said. "We want it to be a testament to the All-Star [Game] in Minneapolis not just five or 10 years down the road, but 25 or 30. We did everything from building a new community center to new ballparks to housing for veterans and renovating a Ronald McDonald house. So we want this to be a marker that the All-Star Game was here for a long time to come."

In addition to the charity events associated with the All-Star Game, the Twins did their usual amount of charity work throughout the region with the help of the Twins Community Fund. The Twins donated items to more than 5,000 fundraising events and gave out more than 20,000 tickets through the TwinsCare program, while also raising $1.6 million to fund projects for youth baseball and softball.

Video: BOS@MIN: Twins host hospital patients for Hope Week

Hope Week remains one of the club's biggest charity efforts, as it features a different initiative each day, with players such as Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins volunteering their time. It's one of several events for charity this winter, including the annual TwinsFest from Jan. 23-25, which will be held at Target Field for the second time ever and is the largest fundraiser for the Twins Community Fund.

"We did our regular stuff on top of the All-Star Game, with Hope Week a major part of that," Donaldson said. "The great thing about Hope Week is that it features not only our front office staff, but our players and fans as well. We're not just using dollars, but we're using our hands and expertise to help people and volunteering. So it's a great way to shed the light on giving back for a week."

Video: First TwinsFest at Target Field is a success

The annual Holiday Week of Giving is similar to Hope Week, but features more Twins employees than players, given that it's the offseason. But new Twins manager Paul Molitor, a St. Paul native, will take part, as he's the chairman of the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign in the Twin Cities.

"We have our Holiday Week of Giving coming Dec. 8, and it's a lot like Hope Week," Donaldson said. "It's mostly employee driven. We'll do everything this year from writing notes to our troops serving overseas, a Habitat for Humanity project and go an elementary school and read to kids. We'll also have volunteers to help ring the bells as part of the Red Kettle campaign"

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
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