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Boyds help to provide shelter to Ugandan girls

Tigers pitcher and wife support home for victims of child trafficking
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- While families gather at home for Thanksgiving this week, Matthew and Ashley Boyd are in Uganda, checking out the home they've helped put together with their hearts.

When the Tigers pitcher and his wife heard about a couple in Uganda who had rescued 36 girls ages 6-14 from forced marriages, prostitution rings and human trafficking and needed help, they felt it was their calling. Ashley Boyd had worked for a nonprofit called Remember Nhu, which fights child trafficking and sex slavery around the world. Matthew Boyd had been hoping to use his security as a professional athlete to contribute to a worthy cause.

DETROIT -- While families gather at home for Thanksgiving this week, Matthew and Ashley Boyd are in Uganda, checking out the home they've helped put together with their hearts.

When the Tigers pitcher and his wife heard about a couple in Uganda who had rescued 36 girls ages 6-14 from forced marriages, prostitution rings and human trafficking and needed help, they felt it was their calling. Ashley Boyd had worked for a nonprofit called Remember Nhu, which fights child trafficking and sex slavery around the world. Matthew Boyd had been hoping to use his security as a professional athlete to contribute to a worthy cause.

Starting their own nonprofit to support a home for rescued children was a major undertaking, maybe bigger than their initial ambitions. But this, they felt, was their cause.

"Starting our own nonprofit was beyond my wildest dreams," Ashley Boyd said in September. "It wasn't something we were ever really looking to do. It kind of came to us."

After putting plans together half a world away, they now have a chance to see their work up close. The Boyds will spend just over a week in Uganda, where they'll check out the home and explore the possibility of opening others to help more children in need. It'll be Matthew's first trip to Africa; Ashley traveled there as part of her work with Remember Nhu.

The goal is to not only provide the children with a safe place, food and clothing, but to provide education and training as they grow up to help them become influencers in their community and end the cycle of abuse.

"Our goal at Kingdom Home is to provide refuge for these girls, a safe place," Matthew Boyd said, "to provide them food, clothing, a bed, an education. It's our goal to never age a child out. We want to give them vocational training, or pay for university, and hopefully prepare them for the world in whatever they want to do."

They've formed a partnership with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, and have received pledges of support from teammates James McCann, Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene. They've also donated $100,000 of their own money.

People interested in helping can do so at kingdomhome.org, either by sponsoring a child monthly or by making a one-time donation.

The Boyds' work with Kingdom Home is one of many examples of the Tigers reaching out and making an impact beyond the diamond:

Niko Goodrum, who was selected as Tigers Rookie of the Year earlier this month, took up the cause of clean drinking water as his own and purchased nearly 2,000 cases of bottled water for residents of Flint, Mich., and students in Detroit Public Schools for after-school programs, including athletics. In both cases, he helped deliver and distribute the water.

• Castellanos and Greene teamed up to donate funds for art supplies for the Art Therapy Program at Children's Hospital of Michigan. The donation allowed the hospital to purchase new easels, paint, brushes, canvases and art kits for a new program called Painting the Future. An art therapist works with children of all ages during their hospital stay to help express their emotions. Select artwork created through the program will be made available for sale with proceeds benefitting CATCH, the nonprofit established by the late Tigers manager Sparky Anderson to improve quality of life for pediatric patients and families.

Miguel Cabrera continued his commitment to help local students through his foundation. His Keeping Kids in the Game event raised over $220,000 to support children's health and youth baseball initiatives while providing more than 200 patients and families from local children's hospitals a special night of fun activities at Comerica Park.

Michael Fulmer served as the Tigers' representative for the American Cancer Society's Real Men Wear Pink Metro Detroit campaign, which raised over $123,000 in 2017 and continued this year to support breast cancer research and awareness. It's a cause that hits close to home for Fulmer, whose wife, Kelsey, lost her mother to breast cancer while the couple was dating in high school.

• Tigers front-office employees got into the season of giving last week, helping pack over 25,000 pounds of food for Gleaners Food Bank to distribute to over 20,000 people.

• Past and future Tigers are also involved. As part of its work to help renovate ballparks for youth baseball, the Detroit Tigers Foundation awarded a grant to complete the refurbishment of the field at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep Academy, which was dedicated earlier this fall as Dan Petry Field in honor of the former Tigers pitcher and longtime baseball coach.

• The foundation will receive a boost this holiday season with help from Tigers top prospects Alex Faedo, Matt Manning, Casey Mize and Franklin Perez. The quartet of talented pitchers will sign autographs on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 2-4 p.m. ET at The D Shop at Comerica Park, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Tigers Foundation. Autographs are $35 individually or $120 for all four, and they may be purchased at tigers.com/autographs.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

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