NEW YORK -- From door to door members of the Mets' front office went, distributing full Thanksgiving meals. They stopped in, had conversations. This was the second annual Metsgiving event, and team employees fanned throughout all five boroughs, providing turkeys and meals to families who would otherwise go without.
"Unfortunately, there are no shortage of people in New York who are hungry or don't know where their next meal is coming from," Mets senior director of communications and community outreach Danielle Parillo said. "It's a great opportunity for us just to help that, help reach more families and give them a nice Thanksgiving, have them be able to celebrate like everybody."
Metsgiving was born last year as a way for the Mets to give back to the community during the holiday season. Employees including general manager Sandy Alderson scattered throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, handing out 50 full meals to families in need. The experience was touching for many employees, who did not anticipate the gracious responses they would receive upon knocking on doors. One man spent hours bonding in particular with a boy roughly his own son's age; he returned later that day to offer the boy a pair of his son's basketball sneakers.
So when Thanksgiving rolled around this year, the Mets knew they wanted to celebrate Metsgiving again -- but bigger and better this time. Instead of three boroughs, they visited all five, working with local elected officials, the NYPD Community Affairs Division and community groups to determine who could most use the help. Instead of 50 full meals, the Mets gave out 500 turkeys donated by the supermarket chain Gristedes, plus 25 meals to residents in the Queens neighborhoods of Flushing, Corona, Elmhurst and Maspeth. Everyone who received a turkey also received Mets tickets.
"Just seeing the looks on people's faces when you gave them turkeys and meals and tickets," Parillo said. "I think it was a very eye-opening and humbling experience for a lot of the front office, a lot of the younger members who maybe hadn't seen firsthand a lot of the challenges a lot of the families in New York City face."
For the Mets, it was the latest event in a year full of giving. Inspiration for another new charitable event came in Spring Training, when closer Jeurys Familia noted on a standard player questionnaire that he had never been to New York City's American Museum of Natural History. So three months later, Familia headlined the Mets' "Amazin' City" event, escorting a group of Corona middle school science students around the museum. The group met with a paleontologist and received a behind-the-scenes tour of the "Big Bone Room," where unused dinosaur bones are stored.
Familia enjoyed the experience so much that he brought his family back later in the summer.
In June, Mets wives hosted a prom for patients at the St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children. In August, the Mets opened Citi Field for a "Family Fun Day" for several hundred local residents. And so on and so forth leading up to last week, when front-office employees scattered around New York City delivering turkeys. They spent time in homes, offering support and conversation in addition to food. And then they left, heartened by their experiences.
"Any time you get a connection like that," Parillo said, "that will go well beyond just the one meal we're providing."