The White Sox were acknowledged Thursday by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB at the General Managers and Owners Meetings for the "White Sox Volunteer Corps" program. The initiative is designed to activate the White Sox fan base to give back to the greater Chicago community through service. MLB will give the White Sox a $10,000 grant for the recognition.
"The award is really for all the people who volunteer," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Thursday at the Pfister Hotel. "We have two or three thousand people who volunteer, they give of themselves, they paint schools, they clean up parks. And our players go to schools."
Reinsdorf and general manager Kenny Williams even got involved and did some painting, although Reinsdorf joked that his efforts needed some touching up.
"We're in a position to be a catalyst and bring people together, and it's a pleasure to do it," Reinsdorf said. "The great thing about the volunteer corps is that a lot of people on their own couldn't do anything. We're able to bring together a group that can do stuff."
The mission of the White Sox Volunteer Corps is to harness the passion of its fans to serve those most in need in the city of Chicago and to create a community of concerned citizens dedicated to serving others. The White Sox Volunteer Corps has mobilized nearly 5,000 volunteers and 116 White Sox employees, including players, coaching staff and club executives. They've performed more than 17,000 hours of community service.
Williams praised the volunteers, as well as Christine O'Reilly, senior director of community relations for the White Sox, calling her a "superstar." O'Reilly coordinates most of the Corps' events.
"This is an honor," Williams said of the award. "I hope our players take note of it as well, because you can make a difference. Sometimes that can get lost -- it's not just about baseball and the on-field product, but our community at large."
The events have included facility improvement, remodeling and renovation projects at Chicago Public Schools, and local Boys & Girls Clubs, food repacking and mobile pantry events at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. There also have been blood drives conducted in conjunction with the American Red Cross.
Launched in 2009, the White Sox Volunteer Corps has contributed labor valued at more than $380,000 through volunteer hours. The Corps is also responsible for the donation of more than $510,000 to non-profit partners to help with the planning and execution of service events, also covering the cost of materials and volunteer services.
The Red Sox were the recipients of the inaugural Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence in 2010 for their "Red Sox Scholars" program, which is administered by the Red Sox Foundation and creates educational opportunities for inner-city youth.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.