Padres Volunteer Team links fans and club to community service

Padres Volunteer Team links fans and club to community service

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The Padres want you to join their team … their volunteer team.

The club Friday launched a program that will link the Padres and their fans -- through donated time -- with non-profit civic organizations in the community.

"The Padres Volunteer Team is a natural extension of our organization's existing community programs," said Tom Seidler, who is part of the Padres' ownership group.

The Padres Volunteer Team was officially launched Friday morning at Mission Beach Park, south of Belmont Park, as the first group of Padres volunteers joined with Coast Keeper on a cleanup walk.

The Padres will be teaming with long-time corporate sponsor Toyota and civic organizations throughout San Diego County to build a workforce to assist charities in a wide variety of projects.

And members of the Padres Volunteer Team will receive a "hit" for every hour served, with hits building toward such rewards as tickets, memorabilia and Padres-related events. For example, 10 hits will earn a Padres Volunteer Team member a ticket to a Padres game on a Padres Volunteer Team Night.

"We are extending our outreach," said Padres president and chief executive officer Mike Dee.

"Very few organizations can mobilize people like a sports team. We want you to join our team. We anticipate serving hundreds of different causes.

"There is a need in a community of San Diego for large numbers of volunteers. Donated time is crucial to the success of many outreach programs. And there are a lot of people who want to do something great for the community beyond financial support.

"It is one thing to support a cause, it is another step forward to personally engage. That is the spirit of volunteerism. And we have a platform to draw people."

San Diegans can join the Padres Volunteer Team by registering at padres.com/volunteer or on site at Petco Park during Padres games throughout the season.

Upon registration, Padres Volunteer Team members will have access to a database of local volunteer opportunities that have been vetted by the Padres, including such core organizations as the San Diego Food Bank, USO San Diego, Veterans Village, Feeding America, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Father Joe's Village and St. Vincent De Paul, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Diego, Coast Keeper, the San Diego Food Bank and the San Diego Madres.

"We want to make a difference," said Dee. "The more volunteers and organizations we can reach, the better."

Padres Volunteer Team members can choose the opportunities that best suit their interests and schedule and donate their time along with the San Diego Padres organization. At their first volunteer event, each volunteer will receive a Padres Volunteer Team T-shirt to be worn at each event they attend.

"There are a wide array of needs in San Diego," said Dee. "A lot of people who want to volunteer are unsure of how to get started. We're here to help while creating a team that brings together the team, volunteers and deserving organizations and civic projects.

"We have a platform to draw people and connect them with deserving organizations to make a difference. Most organizations need muscle and bodies.

"The club will be working hand in hand with the Padres Volunteer Team."

"We are proud to launch the Padres Volunteer Team," said Seidler. "The mission is to build awareness of and inspire participation in serving the greater San Diego community. The Padres Volunteer Team will also include current Padres players, alumni and staff."