MIAMI -- Sporting a mask, Miguel Rojas provided service with a smile for families in need on Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park.
At an annual food distribution, the Marlins shortstop placed bags of food in the backs of cars while wishing all a “happy holidays.”
“I think, especially this year, when we dealt with a lot of uncertainties and things that kept the community kind of away from us, we continue to do stuff like this,” Rojas said. “We continue to show up, and we’re telling them that they’re part of our organization. They’re a big part of what we’re trying to do, which is building an organization that cares about people, not just on the field, but off the field as well.”
A Venezuelan native, Rojas makes South Florida his year-round home. The veteran has become the Marlins’ unofficial team captain, and he prides himself in leading by example.
Rojas was the Marlins’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee in 2020, and Wednesday was another reminder of all he does in the community.
The Latin Chamber of Commerce and Industry of USA (CAMACOL) hosted Wednesday's Jabas Holiday Gift Basket Drive-thru Distribution.
In prior years, it had been done by families lining up to receive a voucher, and then they’d receive the food. But due to the pandemic this year, the distribution was drive-thru only, with food being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The distribution could serve 1,000 families, and cars streamed through the Humana Lot at Marlins Park. Rojas, adhering to social-distancing protocols, wore his mask while placing bags of food in the trunks of cars.
Additionally, Rojas joined three Marlins Home Run Rewards cardholders as they competed in two rounds of challenges for the Marlins Team Store Holiday Experience with Prize Partner, Fanatics. With Rojas' assistance, Phillip J. from Miami took home the grand prize, walking out with close to $1,000 in team merchandise from the Marlins Park team store, including a personalized jersey.
Rojas feels an obligation to give back, because South Florida has long welcomed him since he was dealt to the Marlins from the Dodgers at the 2014 Winter Meetings.
“Like I’ve said before, they’ve always welcomed me with open arms, when I got here in 2015 [for the season],” Rojas said. “Now, it’s 2020, and the same goes for me.”
The Marlins were a surprise team in 2020, reaching the postseason for the first time since '03.
While the Marlins had success on the field, Rojas noted that the game atmosphere wasn’t the same because there were no fans in the stands.
“For me, this is important to do the sacrifices because this is a year that it’s been hard to have contact with people,” Rojas said. “But in this situation, with the Marlins opening Marlins Park to host something like this, people from the community can come here and go through this drive-thru.
“It’s important for us to keep connecting with them. This wasn’t an easy year, but at the end of the day, we’re hoping for something better in 2021.”