Nationals right-handed Max Scherzer gets his second All-Star Game start tonight in Miami. The Nats’ top starter has had another outstanding first half as he leads the club in their pursuit of a second straight division title.
But his effect on the Nationals in a philanthropic role in our nation’s capital region is also very strong and dates back to his first season with the club.
Back in 2015 around Christmas time, Erica Scherzer, Max’s wife, heard about an unfortunate break-in at a local Salvation Army warehouse that was housing Christmas gifts for families in need in the area.
Ken Forsythe, marketing and communications manager for the Salvation Army, detailed the Scherzers’ original involvement with Angel Tree.
“We had the unfortunate situation of a break-in at Christmas time (two years ago),” Forsythe said. “Some local teenagers I think had broken into our D.C. Angel Tree warehouse where we were holding toys and gifts for the kids that were in need, to have them picked up.”
The Angel Tree program has been around 45 years. Today it is a nationwide program. Parents come to Salvation Army ahead of Christmas and let them know their needs at Christmas time. They were with community partners, including civic organizations and local businesses, and even have had sports teams that have stepped forward and “adopted” the wish lists for those families in need.
“What happened after the fact was we had an outpouring of support from the community,” Forsythe said. “Once the news broke of the break-in of about $10,000 in items that had been taken from the warehouse and among the generous community response, we received a donation from the Scherzers to help with getting things together. When the (break-in) occurred, we were only a couple days away from distributing toys for about 6,000 D.C. kids.
“So you can imagine it was a pretty tough time at that point. But with the support of Max and his wife and our other community partners, we were able to procure gifts to replace those that had been stolen and made sure that we had a successful Christmas for the kids that were looking for those gifts.”
Donielle Griffin, director of development for the Salvation Army, said it was Erica who first alerted Max of the break-in.
“Erica had heard the report on the local news and she felt so sad for the situation for all the kids, so her and her husband decided to make that donation to help with the effort,” Griffin said.
The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman and his wife Heather also got involved by tweeting and requesting fans to bring gifts to Nats Winterfest.
July 7 was Salvation Army Night at Nats Park. The Salvation Army band, a brass and percussion band filled with kids ranging in age from 10 to 20, played the National Anthem. The Nats came back from a 4-1 ninth-inning deficit to stun the Braves 5-4 in 10 innings.
Major Chip Hall, the area commander for the Salvation Army, said Scherzer’s involvement was unforgettable and extremely valuable.
“With Scherzer being able to come and recognize us and support our Angel Tree program, it means the world, it really does,” Hall said. “It makes a big difference.”
You can check out pictures from Salvation Army Night by visiting The Salvation Army National Capital Area Command Facebook page.
The Salvation Army also works with the Wizards and Capitals each year with an annual toy drive in which they get the fan base involved.
For more information on how to help, visit www.salvationarmyNCA.org.