Over thirty Nationals employees volunteered their time to cook and package Thanksgiving meals on Monday. Joined by pitcher Craig Stammen, the group spent the day at Food and Friends, a nonprofit organization in NE Washington D.C., to prepare holiday meals for people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses.
Together as a team, they sorted food donations, cooked Thanksgiving turkeys and packaged meals to be delivered to those local residents unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.
"Every little bit helps and hopefully the people who are getting the food get a taste of a good Thanksgiving," said Craig Stammen.
As he sorted donated canned goods, Stammen mentioned being thankful for his parents and for the way he was raised.
"They've shown me the right way to live as an adult. Your own needs aren't what should be put first, but other people's, so that we can have a great community."
Food and Friends delivers meals to more than 1,400 people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other illnesses throughout Washington, DC and 14 counties in Virginia and Maryland by a small staff of 50 people and more than 11,000 volunteers.
"The sports leadership of Washington, including the Nationals, have an important part in the economic life of the city, the cultural life of the city, and most of all, [they make it] fun to be a Washingtonian. So having the Nationals here year in and year out makes a big difference to us," said Food and Friends Executive Director Craig Shniderman.
"The Lerner family is a wonderful family, very philanthropic. They've been very supportive of Food and Friends and other good charities in the community," he continued.
Indeed, the Nationals had over two dozen employees volunteering throughout the day -- employees who also restored a house with Rebuilding Together earlier this year and who often spend their lunch hour reading to and mentoring children at Everybody Wins!.
"We're so behind the scenes and to be able to come out and do things as a team, it's fantastic," said Communications manager Lisa Pagano. "We're trying to really beef up our employee volunteer program so we're making more of an impact too. It's not just the players who are giving back."
Fans can give back too, by visiting FoodandFriends.org. "As the weather gets bad, we're the link between our clients and the food they need," said Shniderman. The organization is looking for food and monetary donations, as well as volunteers for the winter months.