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Orioles past and present give back for holidays

@JoeTrezz
December 23, 2019

All across the country and beyond, the Orioles are giving back this holiday season. From the greater Baltimore area to Latin America to the western U.S. and various outposts in between, the far reach of the O’s generosity has been plain to see. Take, for example, Sarasota, Fla. As the

All across the country and beyond, the Orioles are giving back this holiday season.

From the greater Baltimore area to Latin America to the western U.S. and various outposts in between, the far reach of the O’s generosity has been plain to see.

Take, for example, Sarasota, Fla. As the club’s spring home for the past 11 seasons, it has become something of Birdland South. Orioles Hall of Famer Brian Roberts has long been a supporter of the Child Protection Center, which has been a community staple there for more than 40 years.

“The Child Protection Center has served the Sarasota community in an integral way over the past 30 years by addressing the issue of child abuse through prevention, intervention and treatment,” Roberts said. “We were blessed to be a part of this work by providing a Christmas party for the children and families that are receiving services through CPC.”

This holiday season, Roberts recruited help in reliever Evan Phillips and catcher Chance Sisco. Both previously volunteered at mayor Liz Alpert’s Feed the Hungry Thanksgiving drive at Ed Smith Stadium. Along with Roberts, they attended the Protection Center’s Christmas party and donated gifts to children at the center.

“Spending time with the children at the Child Protection Center in Sarasota was a great privilege," Phillips said. "Being there -- playing games and whatnot -- alongside Brian and Chance was a blast. It brought me so much joy to see the kids just genuinely enjoying their time with us. The holidays are such a special time of year and I feel very lucky to have spent the evening getting to know the families at the CPC and making their holidays a little brighter. Spending time with others, especially those who may be in challenging situations, is a rewarding way to give back in the community. And, if anything, I hope we were able to bring some joy to each person there.”

Consider it just one of the many Orioles-connected charitable endeavors to materialize over the past few weeks. Right-hander Shawn Armstrong adopted a family to donate gifts to for the holidays, while fellow reliever Paul Fry partnered with New Balance Foundation to donate cleats to members of his high school baseball team in Michigan. Mychal Givens also hosted the second annual Givens Back Foundation shopping event for children in the Tampa community.

In Las Vegas, shortstop Cadyn Grenier, the Orioles’ No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline, helped raise more than $600,000 in what has become an annual toy drive for families in need. In his hometown of Agua Blanca, Venezuela, Anthony Santander provided his childhood elementary school with renovated restrooms to improve unusable and unsafe facilities.

And as is custom, the Orioles offered exclusive experiences and memorabilia as part of this year’s annual charity auction during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Auction items this year included lunch with All-Star pitcher John Means and autographed baseballs from Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray.

Proceeds from the auction benefited several charities that provide awareness, research and care related to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Monetary and clothing donations gathered at the club’s inaugural Winter Warm Up event benefited individuals and families in need at Paul’s Place, a Baltimore non-profit focused on stability and self-sufficiency.

“It was wonderful to see these children and their families that have been through very difficult situations enjoying games, food, presents and, of course, the Oriole Bird,” Roberts said. “We believe God has given us a great platform to make a positive impact on others through community involvement with organizations such as CPC.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.