D-backs spread cheer at Boys & Girls Club

Club donates $100K for south Phoenix facility to add new gymnasium

D-backs spread cheer at Boys & Girls Club

PHOENIX -- The D-backs played Santa for a few hundred kids on Monday night with their fifth annual Holiday Party at the MLB All-Star Arizona Diamondbacks Boys & Girls Club, located south of downtown Phoenix, just five miles from Chase Field. However, the big surprise was an early holiday gift of $100,000 from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation for the facility to provide a new gym for the kids to enjoy for years to come.

Kids at the D-backs Boys & Girls Club were treated to a toy, pictures with Santa, dinner provided by Raising Canes, games and a craft station. D-backs employees assisted kids with the holiday decorations and each kid was able to select a toy from a secret toy room filled with everything from a skateboard to a doll from the movie Frozen.

"It's a fun and exciting night for us, and if we did our job right these kids will get exactly what they have asked for from Santa," said Derrick Hall, D-backs president and CEO. "It never gets old when you see the kids march in with smiles on their faces. And for a lot of these kids, this is the only gift they will get this Christmas because their families might not be able to afford it. This is what the season is all about: giving, and giving in a D-backs way."

Holiday party photos

The D-backs kicked off the evening with the $100,000 check presentation to the D-backs Boys & Girls Club that will be used to convert the outdated gym into a modern multi-purpose sports court. The club received the funding as part of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation Grand Slam Grant program. The new sports court will be used daily for team sports, fitness classes, career fairs, holiday celebrations and games. Some improvements include new flooring, paint, sound proofing and energy-efficient lighting. 

"As a player, you don't really realize the impact the D-backs have on the community," said J.J. Putz, a former closer for the club who now serves as special assistant to Hall. "But to be here and see the looks on these kids' faces, knowing that they are getting a brand new gymnasium and the toys they are able to pick out, these kids are going to have a great Christmas and every kid deserves it."

The D-backs, Magical Builders and Major League Baseball invested $2 million into renovations of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix during the 2011 MLB All-Star Game that was held in Phoenix. The renovations included a new games room, teen center, main entry, multi-use outdoor sports field, outdoor baseball field, restrooms, cafeteria, kitchen, youth media center, youth computer lab and building façade. 

"The D-backs are very important to us because four years ago they renovated this club along with Major League Baseball during the All-Star celebration, and up until that time we had declining membership," Brad Kuluris, COO of the Boys & Girls Club. "But with the help of the D-backs and MLB, we have turned this club around from declining membership to filled to the brim, and annually the D-backs return to celebrate with the kids at the holiday party."

The D-backs' club serves an at-risk youth population in south Phoenix and is an important destination for young people in the community. A fixture in the community for more than 50 years, the club serves more than 1,500 young people, many of whom live at or below the poverty level.  

Katie Krause is a contributor to Dbacks.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.