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Press Release

10/27/2008 2:19 PM ET
High-schoolers, MLBers go to bat for needy
The Action Team program kicks off a new school year in 19 cities

ALEXANDRIA, Va. –- The World Series may mean another thrilling baseball season is coming to an end, but for Action Teams of high school students and Major Leaguers on a mission to impact the lives of those in need, it also means the beginning of another exciting season of volunteering.

Since 2002, the Action Team program – created and administered by Volunteers of America and the Major League Baseball Players Trust – has been inspiring and training the next generation of volunteers in cities throughout the United States. Working together, Major Leaguers and high school student leaders recruit, train and organize other students to support causes important in their communities. The players and students deliver a simple message to young people everywhere: You don’t need to be a celebrity to be a hero to someone else.

Two Action Team Major Leaguers recently took time out of their World Series preparation to talk about the program.

“It’s been an honor to work with high school Action Team Captains throughout the Delaware Valley,” said Philadelphia Action Team member and Phillies center fielder, Shane Victorino. “These students are taking a leadership role in encouraging their peers to get involved supporting causes important to their communities, and the results have been astounding.”

Added Tampa Bay Rays first baseman, Carlos Pena, “Volunteering in places where we work and live is important. By joining forces with Volunteers of America and high school students, the Action Team program has helped increase community service by spreading this message to countless teens throughout the nation. ”

Action Teams of student volunteers and Major Leaguers in Chicago (Cubs), Cleveland and Tampa represent the newest cities to join the action during the 2008-09 school-year, bringing the total number of Action Team locations to 19 – Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Mobile, Ala., New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, Maine, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, DC.

The Action Team program also includes a school-based service-learning curriculum developed by the Players Trust in partnership with The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition that carries the message of volunteerism and teaches valuable leadership and community service skills to 700,000 high school students in more than 5,000 classrooms across the United States.

The Players Trust and Volunteers of America are currently developing an Internet version of the Action Team program, scheduled to launch in September 2009, which will make it possible for every high school in America to join this important and exciting program.

Major League baseball players participating in the program include Alex Cora, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox; Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee and Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs; Josh Fogg, Javier Valentin and David Weathers of the Cincinnati Reds; Josh Barfield, Jamey Carroll, Ben Francisco and Ryan Garko of the Cleveland Indians; Brian Fuentes, Ryan Spilborghs and Cory Sullivan of the Colorado Rockies; Curtis Granderson and Nate Robertson of the Detroit Tigers; Hunter Pence and Chris Sampson of the Houston Astros; Eddie Guardado, Joe Mauer and Nick Punto of the Minnesota Twins; Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider of the New York Mets; Andrew Brown, Eric Chavez and Huston Street of the Oakland A’s; Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and J.C. Romero of the Philadelphia Phillies; Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres (Mobile Action Team); Noah Lowry, Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn of the San Francisco Giants; Miguel Batista and Brandon Morrow of the Seattle Mariners; Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays; Jason Jennings and Michael Young of the Texas Rangers; and Chad Cordero of the Washington Nationals.

To date, Action Teams of high school students and Major Leaguers across the country have inspired more than 14,000 high school students to help more than 60,000 people in need by volunteering in their communities.

The Action Team is the signature program of a partnership between Volunteers of America and the Players Trust, which also includes an annual grant program that provides funding to local Volunteers of America offices to help strengthen communities and build better lives for those in need. Ten grants totaling $100,000 were presented in 2008, and $430,000 has been provided by the Players Trust to dozens of programs since the first grants were given in 2003. The Players Trust also provided Volunteers of America with $1 million to establish the Rental Housing Development Fund, which will be used to develop affordable rental housing in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.