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RBI players give back to Minnesotans in need

Community service project involved packing meals for 'Kids Against Hunger'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Approximately 200 baseball players surrounded 19 tables, chatting, laughing and getting to know one another while filling boxes with meals for malnourished kids.

The participants of the RBI World Series took part in a community service event Thursday. They spent about an hour and a half packing meals for "Kids Against Hunger," a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that seeks to provide malnourished kids with healthy food.

"Kids Against Hunger has a really measurable impact," RBI administrator Katie Ringel said. "At the end of the day, we know how many kids we're able to feed for how long, exactly where the food is going. That kind of motivates the kids who are participating to kind of compete with each other, which makes it really about the outcome."

Over the course of the event, the players put together around 36,000 meals, which amounted to 167 boxes. Each meal is a one-cup serving that helps the children recover from malnourishment.

Not only did the event provide players a chance to give back, but it also allowed them to interact with other teams to a greater extent. Different teams paired up at each table, and one table got along so well that the players were singing boisterously while they worked.

"It's really cool to give back to the community," Tampa RBI first baseman Ricky Green said. "We were packing with the Dominican team, so we were just talking with them, learning a different language and stuff, I guess you could say. It was really cool."

While Green and his teammates spent the morning packing meals, it kept their minds off their Seniors Division Championship matchup with Harrisburg RBI later in the evening.

Between getting to know other players, singing or yelling for food refills to keep packing, the whole room was loose and just enjoying the work. At one point, a loud "ohhh" rang on for what felt like minutes from every table, followed by a chorus of laughter.

"We're here to have fun," Green said. "We're here to win, but having fun is the biggest thing. That's what we did."

The event marked the second year the RBI program worked a community service event into the RBI World Series. They began incorporating the event in last year's 20th anniversary of the World Series.

"We wanted to do something that left a lasting impression in the city that was hosting us," Ringel said. "We thought it was an important lesson that the kids learn that there's always someone who needs more than you do and it's really important to give back to your community."

Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for
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