MIAMI -- Marlins outfielder Avisaíl García and Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine paid it forward to the South Florida community on Friday afternoon by taking part in the Home Plate Meals Thanksgiving Distribution sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
The annual drive-thru event outside loanDepot park -- which teams up the Marlins, the Miami Marlins Foundation and Feeding South Florida -- provided Thanksgiving dinners to 1,000 families in the Little Havana neighborhood. Each family received a meal box containing approximately 15 pounds of food and a 10-pound turkey. Items included staples of a traditional Thanksgiving family dinner like apple sauce, canned yams and mashed potatoes. Partners Goya, P.A.N. and Pepsi also donated food.
"I feel grateful for this opportunity," said García, who calls Miami his offseason home. "When you have the chance to help people, I think you feel proud. And I think for us and for the Marlins Foundation, I think it's a great job, and I hope that I can be a part of this for a long time.
"I think it's important for the player, for the team to give back to the community, and I live here, so I feel so proud and happy."
García has made it a habit of giving back. He participated in the Miami Marlins Foundation’s Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids in September, and every year García and his wife send 700 boxes of food and clothes to his hometown of Anaco, Venezuela. Though García's first season with the Marlins had its ups and downs, it hasn't stopped him from appreciating his life's journey.
"I'm thankful for a lot of things: First of all, my family, my health, for you guys, for my teammates," García said. "I'm thankful for everything. I think you ought to be always thankful and thank God for all the opportunities you have in your life."
Also pitching in on Friday were Conine, chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman, president of business operations Caroline O'Connor, Billy the Marlin and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Conine, who lives 35 minutes up the road and has called South Florida home since joining the Marlins as a player in 1993, has returned as a special assistant to Sherman. He wasted no time by appearing on Friday in his new role.
"It's everything," Conine said. "Success on the field and rings and all that stuff is great, but your legacy is what you do for the community, and how you affect the people around you that aren't as fortunate as you. I'm happy to be here today and to help somebody else's life be a little bit easier, at least for a day."
On Friday, the Marlins also hosted a mobile vaccination unit with Empower Community Health Center to provide primary series vaccines for anyone 6 months and older and updated vaccines for anyone 12 years and older. The clinic was part of the national We Can Do This COVID-19 Public Education Campaign that is working to reach communities across the country with the latest COVID vaccines and information about staying safe this winter.