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White Sox spend day giving back

Players, coaches, Southpaw help unveil renovated Boys & Girls Club in East Garfield Park
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Club in Chicago will reopen sometime in September after being closed for the past year.

And thanks to the contributions of the White Sox, in partnership with Major League Baseball, kids in the East Garfield Park neighborhood will have a special teen center to visit. Some of those kids got an early exit from school on Friday and a chance to view the renovated facility, which is a Boys & Girls Club location.

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CHICAGO -- The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Club in Chicago will reopen sometime in September after being closed for the past year.

And thanks to the contributions of the White Sox, in partnership with Major League Baseball, kids in the East Garfield Park neighborhood will have a special teen center to visit. Some of those kids got an early exit from school on Friday and a chance to view the renovated facility, which is a Boys & Girls Club location.

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Forty members from the dedicated White Sox Volunteer Corps assisted with those renovations prior to the unveiling of the White Sox Clubhouse at the locale. White Sox players James Shields, Tim Anderson, Trayce Thompson and Adam Engel, pitching coach Don Cooper, first-base coach Daryl Boston and Southpaw were part of the festivities, trying their hand at a little painting before mingling with the kids.

"My dad worked construction for a long, long time. I've actually painted a few houses in my younger days," a smiling Shields said. "The White Sox do a phenomenal job of getting out in the community giving back. That's what it's all about as a player."

"We've got a lot of people that are willing to give their times to others and the community," Cooper said. "It's a great thing the White Sox have and I'm proud to be here supporting."

To celebrate more than two decades of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as MLB's official charity, Major League Baseball has committed $2 million beginning in 2016 and running through 2020 to renovate a teen center or youth playing field at one Boys & Girls Club in each MLB club market. Tom Brasuell, Major League Baseball's vice president of community affairs, was in attendance Friday working with the Corps and the players.

Live music was provided by DJs, not to mention pizza and an ice cream social. Kids heard about the pool being refurbished at the facility, as well as the computer room and recording studio as part of the amenities. Cooper also spoke to the kids about the importance of the Club and the idea of giving back, as shown throughout Sox Serve Week, the club's 10th annual community outreach and fundraising campaign engaging White Sox fans and the Chicagoland community through outreach events with current players and special fundraising opportunities. Sox Serve Week runs from June 11-16 and benefits Chicago White Sox Charities.

"I've said it before and will say it again: Time might be the biggest gift you can give somebody," Cooper said. "These kids are here to learn stuff and they should learn to pay it forward. There are adults out here giving time so when you get the chance to learn from this experience, you give back."

"It has been really fun," said Christine O'Reilly-Riordan, vice president of community relations of Sox Serve Week. "The clubhouse is into it, the guys have been so supportive, the front-office staff. The opportunity to showcase and highlight the work we do year-round is just really powerful."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox