NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium's Great Hall was again transformed into a patriotic assembly line Tuesday morning, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi, former Cy Young Award winner David Cone and broadcaster Michael Kay joined more than 250 volunteers in helping to create care packages for active duty service members.
The Yankees and the USO produced more than 5,000 Big Apple Packs for distribution overseas, with club front-office employees, veterans and volunteers from Delta, Disney, FedEx and MetLife working side by side to pack essential items along with some comforts of home.
"It's a way to give back and just to thank our soldiers for what they're doing," Girardi said. "The physical and mental stress that they go through on a daily basis to keep us safe is probably something none of us can really imagine.
"It means a lot. I remember getting care packages in the mail and how much they meant to me, so hopefully it touches their hearts and lets them know that we care."
The USO will distribute the packs -- which contained items like toiletries, nonperishable foods, crossword puzzle books and Yankees gear -- to troops serving in remote units across the world during this holiday season.
"We feel very proud to be here and do whatever we can," Cone said. "I've heard some stories from several military members about what it's like when a soldier on the front lines just needs a toothbrush or needs a pack of gum, some of the basic needs and how far that goes, and what that really means."
"The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" were performed by members of the USO in the Great Hall, helping begin he morning. Girardi said that his father served in the Korean War and he had an uncle who flew helicopters in Vietnam, and said that he hopes the troops overseas know that those at home appreciate their service.
"I just hope they know that we're thinking of them," Girardi said. "The Yankee organization and the community around here is really thankful for what they do for our country. I believe we live in the greatest country in the world. We're safe here because of what they do and the time and the effort that they put in, all the hours and being away from home."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.