CLEVELAND -- Picking between charities is almost like picking between children.
Jon Gray only briefly hesitated before answering.
“I think my favorite thing in the world is just working with dogs,” Gray said. “I love dogs. I love dogs so much. I think they're God's gift to us. Just the way they behave and their whole interaction toward us, I think it's very precious. And I feel like they can get neglected a lot. I don't like seeing that. So I think every, every single dog deserves love, and I just like to be able to impact areas I go to and help them out.”
Since the beginning of the 2022 season -- his first with the Rangers -- Gray has donated $100 per strikeout to The Pawerful Rescue in Royse City, Texas, a non-profit animal rescue center that works to provide a safe and comfortable home for all animals.
Gray and his wife, Jacklyn,also spearheaded the return of the Texas Rangers Pet Calendar earlier this season. Proceeds from the calendar sales benefit The Pawerful Rescue.
Gray’s work with animals is just one example of his charitable work. In his short time in Texas, he has become an important fixture in the Dallas-Fort Worth community.
So much so that Gray was named the Rangers’ 2023 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is MLB’s annual recognition of a player who best represents the game of baseball both on and off the field.
“It means a lot, probably more than anything else so far,” Gray said. “I mean, it's like a perspective thing for me. It's something that makes me realize that other than baseball, we're doing some big things, and there's more important things in baseball. Clemente was a perfect example of that and being that guy off the field, just to be able to get put in that same category as him, I guess it's an honor. It's a huge honor to know that the reason we're there is because we've helped many people, so that's good and encouraging.”
Gray has always been involved in charity work, but he credited the Rangers and the work with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation for how much more present he’s been within the community since signing with the club ahead of the 2022 season.
“There's more important things for us to be able to do and use our platform and use our jobs, to be able to reach out to people, and the Rangers have been there every step every step of the way,” he said. “Every time I needed help or had interest, they’re there for me. Whatever involvement I wanted to get into it, whether it was animals or military, whatever it was, they were very supportive, and I couldn't ask for a better organization to be a part of. They've been a huge help.”
Gray’s biggest program has been #MissionGrayWolf22, where he and his wife host military families at various Rangers games throughout the season. Groups hosted in 2023 include 1st Fighter Wing, Adaptive Training Foundation, Dyess Air Force Base, Folds of Honor, Fort Hood Military Base, Fort Sill Air Force Base, Gold Star Moms, Goodwill Vets, Merging Vets and Players, Sheppard Air Force Base, Vance Air Force Base and the USO.
In addition, Gray donates $500 for each of his wins to the Adaptive Training Foundation, a Carrollton, Texas, based non-profit program that serves wounded and injured military veterans, first responders and disabled community members.
Gray also hosted The Birthday Party Project during four Rangers home games this season. The Birthday Party Project’s mission is to bring joy to children experiencing homelessness through the magic of a birthday celebration.
Finally, Gray continued his annual Christmas Toy Drive during his first holiday season in Texas. It was an annual event for him and his family during his seasons in Colorado from 2015-21. In ‘22, they raised over 900 toys to benefit Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex, which has helped over 16,000 families provide toys for their families.
“I think it's something that's kind of grown into me as my career,” Gray said. “I mean, there were times early on, I always helped people around me personally. But now it seems like this platform has given us the chance to reach a lot of people. It's had a bigger impact and we're able to kind of spread that, and it's gone a long way so I couldn't be more thankful to be in a position and be able to help people again, and hopefully we can help them.”