Yankees host NJ school for HOPE Week

Children helped hold charitable drive for Bronx school

Yankees host NJ school for HOPE Week

NEW YORK -- Christopher Allen was nervous to admit it, but with a little nudge from his mom, the rising second-grader came out with it.

"Well, I am a Boston fan," he quietly said Wednesday outside of Yankee Stadium. "But now I'm a Yankees fan, too. I'm kind of both now."

Allen, a native of Chatham, N.J., confirmed his new fandom as the Yankees partnered with Southern Boulevard School to hold a school-supplies drive for local elementary schoolchildren in the Bronx.

Southern Boulevard had its own HOPE Week back in November, when each grade worked on a different project to help those in need. A member of the school's parent-teacher organization suggested they reach out to the Yankees, who recognized the school on the third day of their own HOPE Week.

"When we did that, the Yankees supported us," principal Robert Gardella said. "They let us use the acronym, the crew came out from YES to cover our HOPE Week and then this summer they reached out to us to sort of come here and be honored. Here we are."

Photos from HOPE Week Wednesday

The students started their day by being surprised by Didi Gregorius, Carlos Beltran, Luis Severino and bench coach Rob Thomson. Directly after, they traveled with current players to Gate 6, where the drive was held.

"Helping people, this is about all of that," Severino said. "It's a special day. A lot of people came here to bring stuff for the kids."

Gardella said he was thankful to the Yankees for their support and partnership. He has already reached out to the principal of the school in the Bronx that will be receiving the supplies. The two exchanged phone numbers and have plans for their schools to have a joint HOPE Week next year.

"I bring myself back to the reason why we're here," Gardella said. "It's not for any other reason than to help people. Our goal today should be to help even more through being here."

As for Allen, he took pride in the fact knowing he made a difference. But there was one other thing that kept him grinning.

"I met my favorite baseball player on the Yankees," he said. "Carlos Beltran."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.