Thirteen-year-old Joshua Flores walked down his street in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., on Thursday and found an unfamiliar sight in front of his house. Standing on Flores' doorstep was Mets infielder Wilmer Flores waiting to greet him. Peeking through the front window was Joshua's mother, Magdalena, beaming with
Thirteen-year-old Joshua Flores walked down his street in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., on Thursday and found an unfamiliar sight in front of his house. Standing on Flores' doorstep was Mets infielder Wilmer Flores waiting to greet him. Peeking through the front window was Joshua's mother, Magdalena, beaming with pride.
It was an emotional day in Queens, as Flores, joined by his mother Sodely and members of the Mets' staff, participated in the organization's fourth annual MetsGiving turkey giveaway. Though Flores shared no relation with the family he visited in Corona, the bond of holiday spirit was strong as the Mets veteran passed out turkeys and meals to this and many other families in need.
"This is great to have the Mets come out here and give food to those who can't afford it," said Magdalena Flores, who added she was grateful to have a robust meal for her family of five for Thanksgiving.
• Mets in the community
MetsGiving began in 2014 as a way for the team to give back to the community during the holiday season. Employees, including general manager Sandy Alderson, dispersed throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, handing out 50 full meals to families in need. What began as a gesture of good will quickly turned into something more, as the Mets' employees made warm connections with the appreciative recipients.
"It's an emotional time," said Donovan Mitchell, the Mets' director of player relations and community engagement. "You see the sincerity of the people when they receive the food, and it's a time when they're probably wondering how they're going to make it to their next meal. Then you see that we brighten their day. It's a special feeling. It makes us want to keep giving to those who don't have the same means as others."
After such a positive experience, the team expanded MetsGiving to all five New York City boroughs in 2015. This year, the Mets worked with local charities to distribute more than 500 turkeys to needy families, and teamed with the NYPD Community Affairs division to give 25 meals to residents in Corona and Elmhurst, neighborhoods near Citi Field. Everyone who received a turkey also received Mets tickets.
Stars of the team have joined in the fun as MetsGiving has grown into a local tradition. Infielder Jose Reyes and former outfielder Curtis Granderson traversed the city last November. This year, Flores decided to get in on the fun.
"Thanksgiving is all about families getting together," Flores said. "We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Venezuela, but these people need our help and we like doing that.
"I saw Jose doing this [last year], and when we have the opportunities to give back like this, we have to take them."
In whatever spare time he has left, Flores is known to teach English to children from Latin American countries, and participates in a Special Olympics clinic hosted by the Mets at their Spring Training home in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"If you don't have time to do these things, you've got to find the time," said Flores. "You want to make a difference not only on the field, but off it, too."
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.