Jays Care Foundation spreads holiday cheer in Toronto

Jays Care Foundation spreads holiday cheer in Toronto

TORONTO -- The Jays Care Foundation made an impact this holiday season with contributions of more than $40,000 toward special programming throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Jays Care is the charitable arm of the Blue Jays that focuses on improving the lives of children and youth in need across Canada. This year partnerships were reached with Eva's Initiatives, Youth Without Shelter and Moorelands Community Services.

One of the biggest programs this holiday season was done in conjunction with The Scott Mission in downtown Toronto. Jays Care made a $10,000 donation to The Scott Mission and sent more than a dozen community crew volunteers to help with the annual hamper drive.

"[Volunteer help from the community] means everything," said Trevor Smith, manager of volunteers and community outreach for The Scott Mission. "We function strongly off of community support, and it's about the community helping the community.

"When a group like the Jays Care Community Crew comes and volunteers their time, it's just all links in the chain that tie the community together -- it's essential. There is so much that needs to be done at Christmas time, and we can't do it alone."

The Scott Mission is a Christian, non-denominational, faith-based street mission located in downtown Toronto. It offers support for the homeless and low-income families and also has special programs for children in situations of need.

The hamper program is put on every year and involves filling baskets with food and necessary supplies to support needy families during the holiday season. The donation from Jays Care went specifically toward sweaters and jackets for the youth who use their services.

Earlier this month, volunteers from Jays Care went to The Scott Mission to help prepare and hand out some of the hampers to the downtown Toronto community. The Scott Mission has been well-regarded in Toronto since it began in 1941 and is known for providing food and shelter to those who need it.

"I like to volunteer my time around the Christmas season, and I like to do whatever I can for Jays Care, so when those two things line up it works out really well," Jays Care community crew member Karyn Gottschalk said. "I didn't even know that The Scott Mission was here, so it's nice to find out about the work they're doing here and how I can help. I've been packing oats into individual bags. ... I've never done something like this with Jays Care, but I always have a great experience volunteering for Jays Care, and this is no different."

Elsewhere, other members of the Blue Jays community also were doing what they could to bring some warmth during the holiday season.

Jose Bautista and Drew Hutchison visited the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., which is just a short drive from Toronto's Spring Training complex in Dunedin. Bautista and Hutchison spent the afternoon visiting some of the young patients and handing out special gifts.

The more than $40,000 in donations to The Scott Mission, Eva's Initiatives, Youth Without Shelter and Moorelands Community Services is expected to impact more than 557 children during the holidays.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.