BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you ask the Orioles, the season of giving never has an offseason.
Current players like Tim Beckham, Mike Wright, and Trey Mancini, along with former greats like Scott McGregor, hosted a Christmas party and lunch for 80 Baltimore City elementary school students Tuesday.
“Being able to use out platform, it’s a blessing,” infielder Tim Beckham told WJZ. “It’s a blessing to be able to see the smile on these kids’ faces when we come in, and see the excitement they have.”
The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have worked extra hard this year.
Mary Ancinec, the lead teacher at John Ruhrah Elementary and Middle School in Bayview, says all the kids were entered into a lottery based on grades, attendance and need.
“I feel excited, because I never thought I would meet them,” said one student.
“We played games and it was fun!” said another.
“We were only able to take 80 students so it was very competitive to get in,” Ancinec said.
Their reward for excellent grades and nearly-perfect attendance was a full day playing hooky.
“I beat a baseball player at air hockey,” one excited fourth grader told WJZ.
“It’s really cool and fun and I always wanted to see these players, because sometimes I go to some Oriole games,” said one girl, as she received an autographed photo.
The players sent each each kid off with armfulls of gifts, including a Dugout Club backpack, and a little peck from “Santa Bird,” the Oriole bird in a Santa outfit.
“You can tell that they really enjoy it,” said Orioles rookie Trey Mancini. “And it’s especially nice for them to miss school for a day and do this, too.”
“It’s just a great opportunity to come out and give back to the community a little bit, spend some time with kids out there playing games. It’s been really fun.”
The Orioles Christmas parties, part of the OriolesREACH Charity Fund, have been a tradition for nearly 40 years.