The “Spirit of Giving” continued as the Atlanta Braves and Academy Sports + Outdoors hosted a surprise Holiday Party for D.H. Stanton Elementary School 5th graders.
To kick off the festivities, the students were led by the Tomahawk Team and Homer from their classrooms to the surprise party where Braves and Academy employees greeted them to the tune of Frosty the Snowman. Braves Alumni players Alejandro Pena, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, and former Braves player and current first base coach Terry Pendleton joined the fun.
During the first half of the party, the students participated in arts and crafts projects, decorated ornaments, snowmen and wreathes. Meanwhile, Homer and his elves were getting ready for the big surprise. As the volunteers waited quietly behind closed doors, we gathered the students for a round of Christmas carols with the Tomahawk girls.
The students were then given specific instructions to yell on the count of three, “Open That Door!” Upon command, the double doors in the back of the room swung open and in came Homer, followed by 30 colorful, sleek Huffy bicycles.
The students screamed with excitement as the bicycles were rolled down the aisle one by one.
The Braves alumni players and staff presented each child with their very own bike and safety helmet courtesy of Academy Sports + Outdoors. The students immediately jumped on their bikes and peddled throughout the gymnasium, but not before hugging our Braves alumni and volunteers thanking them for the wonderful surprise.
The parents in attendance were grateful to see the joy in their children’s faces that left many of them speechless.
This year, Braves staff completed more than 3,000 community service hours in conjunction with our monthly Braves Care Employee Volunteer Initiative. We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time this year to give back to our community in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of our community service projects.
In January, we visited the Atlanta Community Food Bank where we sorted cans and restocked the in-house grocery store with assistance from Braves alumni players, Brian Jordan and Marquis Grissom.
In March, the staff cleaned out their closets and donated clothes to the Atlanta Union Mission as a part of the Spring Cleaning Clothing Drive. We also visited the La Amistad After School Program to help the students celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with fun arts and crafts activities.
On April 22, Earth Day, we helped clean up the Piedmont Park Conservancy. We focused our efforts on the garden area where Piedmont Park hosts field trips and we were able to give the garden a mini makeover, as we left our mark on Piedmont Park!
During the month of May, we partnered with the USO to collect items from Braves staff and fans for soldiers returning home from overseas. This effort to help welcome the courageous men and women back to the states was an initiative we called “Support the Brave.”
In June, we celebrated the wounded veterans of the U.S. military by inviting them to Turner Field for an extremely special Braves Care event. Braves staff welcomed about 35 warriors from the Wounded Warrior project to the ballpark where they took a tour of Turner Field, ate lunch with Braves President John Schuerholz, and took batting practice on the field with staff and Braves alumni players.
Christmas came early in July for the kiddos at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta! We surprised patients with room to room visits by Braves players, coaches and wives distributing brand new toys collected by the Braves wives during their annual toy drive. Braves employees participated in fun games and crafts at the Zone, the indoor activity center at the hospital.
At the beginning of August, Braves and Delta Air Lines employees teamed up to get our partner DH Stanton elementary ready for the new school year. We painted, organized books, designed bulletin boards and decorated classrooms.
We spent quality time with our four legged friends in the community during the month of August. We got to play with dogs that are up for adoption at PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill animal shelter just east of the city. We walked the dogs, interacted with kittens, and built new picnic benches for potential adoptive parents.
In September, we helped our friends at DH Stanton Elementary School get excited for the new school year. Throughout the season we partnered with Arrow Exterminators to collect school supplies from Braves staff, fans at Turner Field and Arrow customers. We surprised the students and teachers with brand new supplies for their classrooms and also spent a little time reading to the students.
For our October activity we celebrated Halloween at Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School in Roswell. We helped students create unique handmade candy corn paintings with homemade paint brushes and delivered Braves hats and tomahawks to students that were unable to take part in the activity.
In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we served lunch to the homeless at the City of Refuge and to the students at Bright Futures Academy.
We will round out the year with our December initiative, the Annual Angel Tree Project. We will partner with the Second Wind Dreams “Gift of Light” program and “adopt” senior citizens from a local nursing home. The seniors will be provided with holiday gifts to help make their spirits bright!
We want to thank all of Braves staff members that helped make the Braves Care events this year a huge hit! We are so grateful to have co-workers that are always eager to help out.
A special kudos to Terrence Willoughby and Elizabeth Jimenez for being our 2014 “ACE in the Community” Award Recipients for being the most active Braves Care employees in 2014!
Check out the gallery below for more 2014 Braves Care photos!
This Halloween, Braves front office staff members visited the students at Jacob’s Ladder Neurodevelopmental School and Therapy Center as part of the Braves Care employee volunteer initiative. Jacob’s Ladder is an accredited private school which serves students Pre-K through 12th grade with neurological disorders from down syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injury, learning disabilities and genetic disorders.
We helped some of our new friends create candy corn paintings using homemade paintbrushes and we surprised each child with a Halloween themed goodie bag filled with small toys and school supplies. After everyone finished with their paintings, we delivered Braves baseball caps and Tomahawks to the children in the school that were unable to participate in the arts and craft project.
After meeting each child at the school, Braves volunteers were treated to a tour of the Jacob’s Ladder facility which includes a goat farm, chicken coup, and a bunny cage! It is truly an inspirational place for students to call their own, and we can’t wait to see our friends at Jacob’s Ladder in the future.
In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the Braves Care employee volunteer initiative also visited the City of Refuge to serve lunch to the residents and students at the on-site school, Bright Futures Atlanta Academy.
The Braves have supported the City of Refuge and their efforts for years, and we love to go visit and see the difference that they have made in our community. The City of Refuge is a non-profit organization dedicated to community development efforts that lead to the stability and sustainability of the local community. Their services span multiple areas of need – from food, clothing and shelter to job training, placement, housing, healthcare and education.
One group of volunteers worked in the City of Refuge 180 Kitchen where they served lunches to the women and children that were on-site during lunch hours. We got the chance to interact and eat lunch with the residents. The other group of volunteers visited the on-site private school, Bright Futures Atlanta Academy, a Christian-based, year-round program academy that offers after-school programming during the school year and camp during the summers. This unique school is focused on helping inner-city, at-risk children by providing them with the spiritual, educational, and family support that will help them become productive members of society and role models to their peers. Braves staff visited the school, got a tour of the colorful facility, served lunch to the students and engaged in a fun teamwork activity.
Overall, it was the perfect way for the Braves front office staff to give back to our community during the Thanksgiving season!
The Atlanta Braves established a long term partnership with Daniel H. Stanton Elementary dating back to 2004. D.H. Stanton is located just around the corner from Turner Field in the Peoplestown neighborhood. Each year, we meet with faculty and staff to plan activities in an effort to motivate, reward, and improve the quality of education for the students. We specifically target the areas of reading, physical activity, decreasing absenteeism and increasing parent participation.
We enjoyed planning a variety of activities for the students, teachers, and parents throughout the school year. In the spring, we welcomed the graduating 5th grade class to Turner Field for lunch, a tour of the stadium, and a chance to sharpen their batting and pitching skills in Scout’s Alley. Daphne Lipson, an outstanding 4th grader, was recognized prior to the Braves vs. Oakland Athletics game during the Chick-fil-A All Star Student Achiever presentation for academic excellence. Additionally, we surprised the staff with breakfast and tickets to a Braves game during Staff Appreciation Week.
To kick off the 2014-15 school year, the Braves and Delta Air Lines employees joined forces for a “Braves Give” Saturday community volunteer project and assisted teachers in preparing their classrooms for the first day of school. The volunteers designed and decorated bulletin boards throughout the school, worked with the teachers to organize books and folders, cleaned classrooms, and created welcome back goodie bags for more than 200 students.
Our support for the students and teachers continued through our partnership with Arrow Exterminators as we hosted a school supplies drive at Turner Field and at local Arrow Exterminators locations. Together our staff created gift baskets with the items collected and delivered them to the classrooms. Each classroom was gifted with items including staplers, paper, pencils, folders, erasers, glue, crayons, markers, calculators, and much more. Our staff volunteers delivered the baskets to each classroom and took time to read to the younger students and talked to the 4th and 5th graders about college and careers.
In an effort to engage the parents, we are partnering with Goodwill of North Georgia to host a Career Workshop on November 5th. The workshop participants will receive guidance on resume building, interviewing skills, and professional image enhancement.
Over the years, we have truly enjoyed our partnership with D.H. Stanton Elementary and we are always thinking of creative and unique ways to give back to youth in the Turner Field community. Through the Braves staff, players, fans and our corporate partners like Delta Air Lines and Arrow Exterminators we were able to make an impact and look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come!
Each month Braves employees participate in Braves Care, our employee volunteer initiative designed to give staff the chance to give back to the community in various ways. Through this initiative, we are able to create a closer connection to our community through volunteer projects with local non-profit organizations.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Braves front office staff made a special visit to the students at the La Amistad After School Program to create arts and crafts masterpieces and spend quality time with the children before their tutoring session.
La Amistad is a nonprofit organization that works toward helping Latino students and families throughout Georgia thrive in their educational, personal, and career pursuits while working together to transform communities. La Amistad offers after school tutoring and mentoring to students that speak English as a second language, helping them achieve physical and personal growth.
During our visit, we painted four leaf clovers with puffy paint and assembled and decorated homemade shamrock kites. After the fun arts and crafts projects, we tested their baseball knowledge with a little Braves trivia. To close out the afternoon we presented each child with a personal copy of the children’s book “The Road to the Braves,” stickers and tomahawks.
The students were delighted to have us as their special guests during their after school program. We definitely made some new friends at La Amistad! This was truly a fun and unique experience for all of the staff members and children involved, and we look forward to seeing them again soon when they visit us at Turner Field this season.
If you are interested in learning more about LaAmistad, please visit http://www.laamistadfriendship.org/
Every holiday season, the Atlanta Braves host special holiday activities to enhance the lives of others. In the Spirit of Giving, we adopted senior citizens for our Angel Tree program and we also hosted our annual “Braves Bowl,” a holiday bowling party for military families.
We know that the holidays can be difficult for those who do not have anyone to share them with. We wanted to do something different and decided to help our senior citizens who are sometimes forgotten around the holidays.
We partnered with Second Wind Dreams, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the perception of aging. Second Wind Dreams offers education on dementia, grants wishes for seniors, and educates the general population on issues related to the elderly. Braves employees adopted 50 senior citizens residing at Decatur Senior Living and College Park Healthcare. These seniors, ranging in ages from age 60 to 95 were gifted with items from their wish lists including sweatsuits, alarm clocks, robes, socks, hats, gloves and candy. As you can see, these seniors didn’t ask for much, so it was the least we could do put smiles on their faces just in time for Christmas!
We continued to spread holiday cheer for 40 military families at our annual Braves “Braves Bowl” Holiday Party at Midtown Bowl. This is the third year that we have held this event to honor and thank the soldiers and their families for their sacrifices, dedication, and service to our country.
Parents and children from the United Military Care Inc., Wounded Warrior Project, and the Georgia National Guard were greeted by Homer the Mascot, and received a warm welcome from Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez. Braves Alumni Marty Perez and Johnny Estrada along with and Gwinnett Braves Manager Brian Snitker also came out to bowl with the families, sign autographs and take pictures. To round out the day, three lucky soldiers got the opportunity to bowl against Estrada, Perez and Gonzalez for bragging rights and Braves prize packs.
Many thanks to the Braves front office staff, our alumni players, coaches, the Braves 400 Club volunteers, Midtown Bowl and Second Wind Dreams for making this holiday seasons’ activities a huge success!
On Thursday, October 17th, twenty volunteers from the Atlanta Braves front office staff went to visit the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge on Emory University’s campus for our monthly Braves Care community outreach activity.
The Hope Lodge provides cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when they are receiving treatment far away from home. Each Hope Lodge provides a nurturing, home-like environment where patients can receive free transportation to and from their treatments, information on their cancer and how to best fight it, and support from volunteers and others fighting the same fight.
Daily activities are provided for the Hope Lodge residents, and the Braves Care program was the special activity for the day. The residents and Braves Care volunteers decorated pumpkins for Halloween and played in a highly competitive corn toss competition. Winning teams from the corn toss competition were given autographed baseballs and gift bags filled with Halloween candy, braves caps, stickers and foam tomahawks.
To close out the afternoon, Braves employees were given a tour of the third largest Hope Lodge facility in the country, including a sitting area decorated by the creative staff at Lilly Pulitzer. After the tour, guests participated in a quick Braves Trivia round for more autographed items, and posed with their pumpkins for a group photo! For more information on the American Cancer Society Hope lodge, please visit their website here.
Every July, the Atlanta Braves spread holiday cheer during our annual “Christmas in July” hospital visits at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Shepherd Center. This year Braves front office staff members were joined by Braves players, their wives, and coaches for the special visits. Many of the toys, which were distributed to the children during this visit, were donated during the Braves Wives annual Toy Drive.
Atlanta Braves players and their wives Craig and Ashley Kimbrel, Reed and Taryn Johnson, Tim and Kim Hudson, Jordan Walden and his girlfriend Deanna, along with Braves coaches Brian and his wife Ronnie Snitker and Roger McDowell visited children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. The players and coaches were able to visit all the children in the hospital and participated in arts and crafts activities. Braves Manager, Fredi Gonzalez and his wife Pam, and Braves players Alex Wood, David Carpenter, and Paul Maholm spent time with patients at the Shepard Center.
On Thursday, April 25th members of the Atlanta Braves front office staff visited PAWS Atlanta, a private, not-for-profit animal welfare organization founded in 1966. PAWS Atlanta is a no-kill shelter, meaning they do not euthanize animals based on need for space; the focus is on finding these loving animals a forever home.
PAWS Atlanta is a staff favorite Braves Care project, so we had excellent participation! We worked on a range of projects to help the shelter. One group changed the marquee signs, then organized spare cages and other supplies before taking the dogs out on a walk. They did an outstanding job organizing a space that the staff had not had a chance to care to.
The next group organized the entire food shed – which stores not only the food for the shelter, but food for those who may not be able to afford to feed their pets for a short amount of time. This shed also housed important documents for the organization, and our volunteers took it a step further and completely reorganized the shed.
The third group cleaned windows and visited kittens in the Cat Cottage. The last two groups shredded donated newspaper for the kennels and the other prepared dogs for baths. Then we all helped bring all of the dogs in for lunch and walk them afterwards!
After all of the work was done, it was time for a miniature photo shoot with the entire group and a handful of puppies. Many of us, myself included, fought the urge to take one or all of them home! If you’re looking for a new family pet, you should absolutely consider rescuing a dog or cat! To learn more about P.A.W.S. Atlanta, visit their website here!
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book, and read to a child!”– Dr. Seuss
Friday, some of the Braves staff got in touch with their inner child and opened up a Dr. Seuss book! Volunteers went to D.H. Stanton Elementary, our partner school just blocks from Turner Field, and served as guest readers to help celebrate Read Across America and the famous Dr. Seuss’ birthday! The man responsible for great stories like Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! , and The Cat in the Hat would have turned 109 on March 2nd!
To celebrate his birthday, students at D.H. Stanton prepared for a reading bowl – the winner received a Dr. Seuss cake for the movie that afternoon. I really wish we could have stayed all day, so that we could have joined in on the cake and closed circuit broadcast of The Lorax, but we had to get back to the office…
We divided up and read books to TWELVE classrooms ranging from Pre-K to 3rd grade. I had the pleasure of reading There’s a Wocket in my Pocket to the most adorable class. They had their hats and favorite Dr. Seuss books ready to go. They were the best audience I could have asked for, totally engaged and loving it. I have to say, I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to wear that fantastic hat the rest of the day…
Other books that made an appearance that Friday included Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, and The Butter Battle Book. We spent Thursday morning packing goody bags, and those were definitely a hit with the kids (and faculty!). When I told the kids about said goody bags, I mistakenly called them a “treat,” so I did have a few who were disappointed that they weren’t the kind of treats that you eat.
We definitely had a great group of volunteers out bright and early on a Friday morning, and I can safely say everyone had a great time. Personally, I think there are few better joys than seeing a child’s face light up, so it definitely made the rest of the workday brighter!
“You are you and that is true, there’s no one in the world who’s you-er than you.”
― Dr. Seuss