Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon will host Thanksmas for the seventh consecutive year at Salvation Army Shelters in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater and then return to his Pennsylvania home for his Hazleton Integration Project‚??s second annual Christmas Celebration.
Maddon‚??s goodwill tour begins Dec. 7 when he will host his third annual Thanksmas fundraiser at 717 South in Tampa. The restaurant will prepare Joe‚??s Thanksmas meal,and Rays players and coaches will serve as guest servers.
As he does for every Thanksmas, Maddon will prepare a traditional Italian/Polish holiday feast for hundreds of needy citizens in the Tampa Bay region. He will purchase the food, and with the help of Rays coaches and staff, cook and serve the meals, December 8-12.
Following Thanksmas, Maddon will return to his hometown of Hazleton, for a series of events to promote his Hazleton Integration Project (HIP). The project‚??s mission is to provide a suitable location within the city conducive to creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged children to participate in a variety of no-cost or low-cost educational, cultural and athletic activities. On Dec. 13, Maddon will be joined by former All-Star first baseman Tino Martinez for a press conference at the new Hazleton One Community Center.
On Dec. 14, Maddon will be joined by Martinez, Carlos Pena, Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, FOX‚??s Ken Rosenthal and Hall of Fame sportswriter Peter Gammons for an auction/celebrity dinner at Genetti‚??s Best Western in Hazleton. The following evening the Rays manager will host Joe Maddon‚??s Family Christmas featuring a variety of Hazleton‚??s most talented young people at the Alice C. Wiltsie Performing Arts Center. Finally, on Dec. 16, Maddon and his volunteers will serve a final Thanksmas meal to economically disadvantaged citizens at Hazleton‚??s Catholic Social Services Family Center.
Over the past six years, Maddon‚??s Thanksmas has served approximately 5,000 individuals in need and provided many of those individuals with clothing and shoes. In 2011, as a result of numerous donations from generous Rays fans and Joe‚??s fundraising efforts, Thanksmas was also able to present $4,000 each to Salvation Army centers in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Bradenton and the Sallie House in St. Petersburg. This year, Maddon and his volunteers will hand out special Thanksmas blankets at each location. For more information, visit joesthanksmas.com.
Last month, HIP purchased the former Most Precious Blood School that will become The Hazleton One Community Center. The center will be the host site for athletics, academics, adult education, the arts, cooking and other kinds of activities. The grand opening is planned for May.