Released 18 July 2014
500 Children Excited for a Day at the Ballpark July 24
Next week, 500 children from neighborhoods across Philadelphia will experience what some have only known from a television screen: attending a major league baseball game.
On July 24, children from The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia's various corps community centers throughout the city will board buses destined for Citizens Bank Park, where they'll be greeted by dozens of Salvation Army volunteers with posters, foam fingers and other prizes for their special "Day with the Phillies" game day. The group will be donned in Salvation Army t-shirts. The game day is part of the annual Christmas in July campaign, and is open to all children attending Salvation Army Day Camps during the summer.
Anthony B., 13, who is now a volunteer at The Salvation Army Philadelphia Citadel Corps Community Center day camp during the summer, brings his glove to the game every year with the hopes of catching a foul ball.
His friend and fellow camp volunteer, Charles R., 14, was able to sit right on the baseline at one Day with the Phillies.
"It was really nice that we actually had the chance to go to the stadium instead of watching on TV," said Charles. "Last year, we got to run the bases! It was cool seeing how much farther you have to run between bases than where I play at school."
Jhalil A., 13, also volunteers at the Philadelphia Citadel Corps Community Center and notes that he likes seeing the younger kids' expression when they experience the professional stadium for the first time.
Each year, generous contributors step up to the plate to sponsor tickets for the children, including private donors like Ronald and Nancy Leong.
"For some children in our city that have never been to a major league game, it touches their hearts to have this experience," said Captain Rosa Walls of The Salvation Army. "It touches our hearts too to witness it. This day is about much more than baseball—we're taking children out of the inner city to see something they never dreamed of experiencing in person. It's a part of giving back to our community and Doing the Most Good."
Lisa Zettlemoyer, mother of 11-year-old twins Mekhi and Mikayla, has been sending her children to The Salvation Army's Day Camp for three years and has attended the Day with the Phillies with them in the past.
"It was my kids' first time ever going to a professional live game. From the moment we arrived, we felt so welcome," she recalls. "Even the players would acknowledge and point at our section during the game! I felt so proud for our kids.
"Whether parents might not have enough money, or maybe they work a lot, their kids finally get the opportunity to leave their familiar neighborhood. That's the point of this all, to inspire kids. The Salvation Army serves so many kids in our community; almost every child has the chance to go to day camp which keeps them safe and opens their eyes to diversity. It's an all-win situation."
Captain Walls notes that the Day with the Phillies and The Salvation Army Day Camps are also a blessing to parents.
"This day makes the children feel blessed and chosen. It helps their parents too. They don't have to worry about their kids, and can know that they're in a safe environment with a faith-based organization that has taken the time to instill inspiration, caring, and love into their child."
You can help send an underprivileged child to The Salvation Army Day with the Phillies this summer, with a simple text message. Text SHARE to 41444, to make a donation of any amount using your credit card.