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For Holland, helping kids in need a year-round effort

Rangers lefty enjoys holiday season with family, but takes time out to give back

ARLINGTON -- The fifth graders at Dunn Elementary School in Arlington received some good advice from Rangers pitcher Derek Holland during a recent visit.

Holland was there to talk to the children about the importance of staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle. He also spoke of the importance of good nutrition.

"You can't be eating fast foods all the time," Holland said. "You need to eat healthy stuff ... fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, things like that. Those are the things that I have to eat to stay on top of my game."

Holland has done a lot of the right things to develop into one of the top left-handed pitchers in the American League. His 38 wins over the past three seasons are the fifth most by an AL left-hander.

But Thanksgiving may be the one day of the year that he doesn't take his own advice when it comes to what he eats. He has one goal in mind when he returns home to Newark, Ohio, to celebrate the holiday with his family.

"I will be like a garbage disposal," Holland said.

Hey, it is Thanksgiving, and who could resist grandma's honey-baked ham and deviled eggs?

"She puts extra stuff on top and it's unbelievable," Holland said. "There will be sweet-potato casserole, broccoli casserole, deviled eggs ... so good."

Don't forget the turkey.

"Yeah, I like to take the dark meat and the white meat and mix it all together," Holland said. "Ketchup is the key ingredient to that one."

Ketchup? On turkey.

"Yeah, I'm big on ketchup," Holland said.

That's all followed by the cherry pie, brownies and some kind of fruit dessert.

"I'm going to crush a bunch of food and then go throw the football with my dad and brother," Holland said.

The holidays are obviously important to Holland and his family. But his efforts during the winter are not limited to his immediate family. Holland has become one of the most visible Rangers players when it comes to community involvement, and he focuses most of his efforts on children in need both in Texas and in Ohio. His work has earned him the 2013 Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award and he will be honored at the Rangers Awards Banquet on Jan. 24 in Grapevine, Texas.

"I try to do as much as I possibly can," Holland said. "When Michael Young was here, I saw it first-hand what all he did and he inspired me. I want to continue to do the work that he did here."

Earlier this offseason, Holland announced he is donating $10,000 each to the Children's Medical Center Dallas and Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. The donations were made in conjunction with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Holland's donation will enable Cook Children's Medical Center to help furnish a playroom for patients that will house child-size hospital furniture and equipment. Items for the playroom will include MRI/CT scanner, stretchers, IV poles, OR lights, exam table, X-ray viewing screen, hospital bedside tables, wheelchair, wagon, storage cabinet, white board, and stools as well as toys and other medical equipment. Holland previously donated toys, video games, and movies to Cook Children's Medical Center as part of the team's annual hospital visit in December 2012.

Holland has been a part of the Rangers' annual holiday visit to the two hospitals and he served last year as the honorary chairman of the organization's Christmas toy drive.

"I want to do everything I can to give these kids something and lift their spirits up," Holland said. "I know they are going through trying times that no kid should have to go through. You want to help them, you want to help kids in need, keep them happy and let them know we are behind them no matter what they are going through.

"I remember on one hospital visit seeing a child that we knew wasn't going to be around much longer. That hit me hard. To see him so excited and happy to see me and the other players, that really hit home. You want to see as many kids as possible and put a smile on their faces."

Holland also works with his high school baseball team back in Newark and puts on an annual bowling tournament to help local children. He's also working to help upgrade the facilities for the local Little League program that he played in growing up in a town of about 47,000 just east of Columbus in central Ohio.

"Some of those facilities are not looking so good," Holland said. "I want to help them have facilities they can play and use at any time."

For Holland, there is far more to Thanksgiving and the holidays than scarfing down deviled eggs like a garbage disposal.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.

Texas Rangers, Derek Holland