Rays pitchers Matt Moore and David Price and outfielder Desmond Jennings will visit a total of seven recreation centers in South St. Petersburg as part of the Rays Dugout Club on June 25 or June 28 (depending on pitching schedule).
Created in 2010, the Rays Dugout Club has become the signature program of the Rays South St. Petersburg Initiative, an idea conceived by Rays employees who are residents of that community, partly in response to violence surrounding Paris Whitehead, an eight-year-old South St. Petersburg girl killed by gunfire in April 2009.
On Thursday, June 20 and Friday, June 21, Rays mascot Raymond will visit the centers to kick off the program and educate campers about the 2013 Dugout Club message: Stay Healthy, Stay Positive, Stay Involved, Stay Smart. Joining Raymond will be Bess the Book Bus, a mobile literacy outreach bus dedicated to getting books into the homes of underprivileged and underrepresented children and families. Raymond and Bess will distribute free books to children at each center as an extension of the summer reading program, Reading with the Rays.
On June 25 or June 28, the players will visit their centers to reinforce this year's program laid out by Raymond, hand out Dugout Club T-shirts featuring each player's club name and present each recreation center with an "angel fund" to be used to meet the needs of the children and families served by each recreation center.
Price will once again adopt two recreation centers in South St. Petersburg. Jennings will host three centers and the newest Rays Dugout Club host, Moore, will adopt two centers for the summer. Jennings will sponsor "Jennings' Juniors" at Lake Vista Recreation Center, Frank Pierce Recreation Center and Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center. Price will sponsor "Price's Pals" at Campbell Park Recreation Center and Gladden Park Recreation Center. Moore will sponsor "The Moore Corps" at Childs Park Recreation Center and Wildwood Recreation Center.
Jennings, Price and Moore will host the children from the Dugout Club on July 11 during the Rays-Twins game at Tropicana Field and sponsor a field trip for each site in the community during the summer months.
The three will return to the recreation centers later in the summer to motivate the children for the start of school. They will present each child with a Dugout Club-themed back-to-school item to start the new school year.
The Dugout Club is supported by the Rays Baseball Foundation and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which actively promote the benefits of eating a healthy diet to Tampa Bay area youth. Kids and teens 18 and under can find a free nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack at supervised and safe locations throughout the summer through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Summer Break Spot program. Find a Summer Break Spot site near you by visiting www.summerfoodflorida.org or dial 2-1-1.