The Orioles' presence in Sarasota County goes well beyond baseball and Spring Training, as the organization hosts a variety of baseball and non-baseball events and activities throughout the year. Our year-round philanthropic OriolesREACH initiatives embrace youth activities, charitable causes, and civic priorities.
The 4th Annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic was held at Laurel Oak Country Club to benefit the Miracle League of Manasota, an organization dedicated to providing an opportunity for every person to play baseball, regardless of their ability. The classic which has raised more than $125,000 since its inception, featured a silent auction and the chance to play a round with current and former Orioles players and coaches including Manager Buck Showalter as well as Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters. For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and their adult counterparts in Sarasota and Manatee counties, a synthetically surfaced baseball field with all the requisite amenities was built in 2012 in Longwood Park, just off University Parkway in Sarasota. Sarasota County committed $500,000 to building the field, with the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates also contributing $150,000. In 2014, the Orioles dontated an additional $10,000 to the Miracle League in honor of retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
In March, the Orioles hosted the 4th annual All Faiths Food Drive to help people in need in the Sarasota area. Since 2011, almost 3,000 pounds of food and $4,000 in cash donations have been collected at the yearly food drive to help people in need in the Sarasota area. In 2014, All Faiths Food Bank distributed 7 million pounds of food equating to over 5.8 million meals. More than 3,500 volunteers and 195 partner agencies and programs in Sarasota and DeSoto counties support the Food Bank's mission.
On March 17, the Orioles auctioned black and green cartoon bird caps worn during that day's spring training game, to benefit the animal hospitals at Mote Marine Laboratory. The Sarasota-based hospitals treat sick and injured dolphins, small whales and sea turtles with the goal of returning them to the wild. The auction raised nearly $5,000 for the animal hospitals.
Ed Smith Stadium was host to youth baseball days and clinics, benefiting organizations including Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and a local Boys & Girls Club and YMCA. On March 23, participating youth baseball teams received discounted tickets ($10 each) to the Orioles' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and participated in a pre-game, on-field parade around the warning track. The event was presented by SWAT, Florida's statewide youth organization that mobilizes Florida's youth to educate community members on the dangers of tobacco use, advocate for policy change, and build leadership skills among youth. In May and July, Orioles players and coaches hosted clinics at Ed Smith Stadium hosting over 100 total children from the Roy McBean Boys & Girls Club and North Port Family YMCA. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County have played an integral role in the Sarasota County community for more than 44 years, providing daily programs and services to thousands of young people. The organization's mission is to enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The North Port Family YMCA is committed to strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living & social responsibility. The Y is the starting point for many youth to learn about becoming and staying active, and developing lifelong, healthy habits.
The Orioles hosted a tour of Ed Smith Stadium for youths participating in the W.O.W. (Widen Our World) Camp organized by Brothers and Sisters Doing the Right Thing, a Sarasota-based nonprofit, in August. A dozen boys and girls, ages 13 to 17, toured the stadium, met Orioles minor league players, and enjoyed a Gulf Coast League game along with lunch catered by the Orioles. The W.O.W. Camp seeks to bridge communities to build strong relationships that help teens succeed.
The Orioles and the Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program teamed up again this year to collect and distribute food to help people in need in the Sarasota area. The Orioles also hosted the charity's Thanksgiving Sorting Day at the Ed Smith Stadium on November 21. The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that has helped more than 390,000 hungry persons in Sarasota and Manatee counties since 1987. The organization's Thanksgiving food drive collects tons of non-perishable food items annually and also uses cash donations to distribute food gift cards. Food is distributed through charitable groups, religious institutions and service agencies.