Each teenager was paired with a D-backs employee and was allotted $250 to spend on much-needed clothing items and holiday gifts for their family. Perhaps the hardest part of the day for the teenagers was actually picking out something for themselves.
"Family is the most important thing for these kids, because that is all that they have," said Maria Losolla, Homeward Bound program volunteer coordinator. "Therefore, picking something out for themselves might seem selfish to them, so they decide to pick out items for others rather than themselves."
Homeward Bound works to break multi-generational cycles of homelessness, welfare dependence and domestic violence and to create self-reliance through housing and compassionate client-centered services.
"Homeward Bound is an incredible organization, and these special families really appreciate our support. Our employees love this event and rush to sign up every year," said Debbie Castaldo, D-backs vice president of community impact. "The kids that are selected to participate in the shopping event with the D-backs earn the opportunity to spend the evening shopping for gifts. Each child has displayed their commitment to create a better life for themselves and their family, and this is their reward in which the D-backs are honored to play a small part."
The D-backs have partnered with Homeward Bound to provide kids with a holiday shopping experience for the past four years, and each year, D-backs employees look forward to this event. D-backs employee volunteer Kerri White was paired with a 12-year-old girl named Asharah who dreams of being an actress or a singer. One of the items she selected for her brother was a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" dream light that lights up a room at night with the super heroes.
"Volunteering for this event is so rewarding, because some of these kids don't have much, therefore, giving them the opportunity to buy something for someone in their family, they put a lot of thought into it," said White. "It is fun to get to know the teens and stepping outside yourself and into their world. Some of these kids have gone through a lot in the past, and it is great to see a smile on their face."
Katie Krause is the manager of corporate communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.