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Players support relief efforts in Japan

Grant to go toward rebuilding areas affected by 2011 disasters

NEW YORK -- Major League baseball players today continued their support of earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan by awarding a $310,000 grant from the Players Trust to nonprofit organization Points of Light. The funds will be used by Points of Light's Japanese affiliate, Hands On Tokyo, to expand its mobile Community Café to serve as a cultural hub to help restore a sense of community to areas devastated by last year's twin disasters.

The Community Café provides the opportunity for those living in temporary housing to come together as a community and share experiences, activities and a spirit of hopefulness. The cafe serves as a hub of connection, inspiration and action, and fosters well-being, collaboration and sustained volunteer commitment.

"As a native of Miyagi, I'm honored to join my fellow Major Leaguers in this effort to help return a sense of community pride to an area I call home," said Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Takashi Saito. "The effects of the earthquake and tsunami continue to be felt today. The disasters not only wiped out entire communities, they challenged the spirit of thousands of my neighbors. The Community Café will help the proud people living in and around northeastern Japan reconnect with their roots and serve as a place where they can plan for a promising future."

Points of Light is partnering with the Players Trust to accelerate the engagement of local and international volunteer power for the long-term recovery of the Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki city and Yamamoto-cho region. The overall goal of the partnership is to create a mobile community hub model for volunteer action that can be duplicated in other communities, creating sustainable and scalable engagement. This includes a physical community center to serve as a cultural hub, and strengthening on-the-ground support to effectively train, mobilize and manage volunteers in current and long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

"By building community, we are building hope and helping residents from these communities work together to rebuild their homes and their infrastructure," said Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn. "This generous donation allows Points of Light and Hands On Tokyo to expand our efforts to include training and deploying volunteers and prioritizing community rebuilding needs that can be accomplished by volunteers."

Prior to today's grant from the Players Trust, Major Leaguers have helped Japanese people living in tsunami-affected areas by contributing another $575,000 to support various relief and recovery efforts in the area, including a donation of new baseball equipment to 32 youth baseball teams from Ishinomaki.

The Major Leaguers' contributions to Japan join similar efforts of theirs to use the Players Trust as a vehicle to provide important resource support to areas worldwide in need of assistance in the wake of natural disasters. They also raise awareness for the work that remains to be done in these areas long after the media attention goes away. Including today's grant, close to $3 million in Players Trust funding has helped support the work of non-profits in Haiti, the Gulf Region following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and areas of the U.S. midwest and southeast ravaged by deadly tornadoes in 2011.