Rangers Foundation hosts holiday drive-thru

Families 'blessed' to receive dinner, gifts from Youth Academy

December 18th, 2020

While holiday celebrations look different in 2020, that didn’t stop the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation from spreading cheer at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex presented by Toyota in Dallas on Thursday night.

The foundation’s third annual Christmas party was reimagined as a drive-thru event this year, decorating the Academy parking lot with Christmas lights and featuring a sugar plum fairy, a toy soldier, Santa Claus and other Christmas figures to welcome families.

“My radio is broken in my car, so we haven’t gotten to listen to the Christmas music the whole season. We pulled up and I rolled down the windows and I said, 'Listen! It’s finally Christmas music!’” Michelle Sharpe said after driving her three children through the Christmas scene.

Kiley Sharpe, a sophomore at High Point Academy in White Settlement, Texas, echoed his mom’s enthusiasm for the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with his Rangers Academy family.

“I’m grateful to be part of a community like this," he said. "It’s amazing to feel that you have a voice, that you’re heard. They care about you, doing events like this."

For Michelle Sharpe, being part of the community at the Rangers Academy has been even more special during the isolation of the pandemic and after being laid off from her job in March. Her family had enjoyed mingling with friends at the previous holiday parties at the facility, but they found joy in the drive-thru, too.

“We’re just so grateful and blessed to come experience this, even in the car," she said. "Seeing the people you know, like coaches, seeing that they’re OK, seeing that they’re healthy and they’re happy and that you can say, 'Merry Christmas,' that’s what’s important. Even if you can’t go inside and have the hot cocoa and conversation."

The Sharpes were one of approximately 120 families receiving holiday gifts for their children and a to-go pizza dinner.

Support for the event was provided by Rangers chief operating officer Neil Leibman, who also serves as the chairman of the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation board, and his wife, Amy.

“While tonight may look different than our traditional Christmas party, the Rangers' and Rangers Foundation's, along with my family’s, commitment to our community has not changed," Leibman said. "Our commitment to helping families and kids in West Dallas has grown and deepened since the start of the pandemic, and we will continue to be here where they need us. We wish all of our Academy families a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.”

Over the past few months, the foundation has worked to ease the impact of COVID-19 both through annual events like the Thanksgiving distribution in November and by providing more than 4.5 million meals and snacks to more than 140,000 individuals across 16 different locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.

Thursday’s Christmas party wrapped up a year in which the traditional baseball and softball programming and special events offered at the Rangers Academy pivoted to afford a degree of normalcy. Rangers vice president of community outreach/Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation executive director Karin Morris knows it's important to the families the foundation serves.

“We miss having the people inside the Academy building and the Christmas presents and the coloring and all those other things, but we wanted to make sure that we were still able to give our Academy families toys and presents and a hot meal to thank them for being part of our greater Rangers family,” Morris said. “The Leibmans have been so supportive for three years making sure that this can take place.”

For Michelle Sharpe, Thursday was a home run.

“I loved it,” she said. “I almost got teary because of what they’re doing for everybody. What a way to end a year. A good way to end the year we’ve had.”