Gonzalez, Singleton aid Houston food drive

Astros partner with Kroger for 'Fill the Freezer' initiative

Gonzalez, Singleton aid Houston food drive

HOUSTON -- As the Astros' outstanding utility player last season, Marwin Gonzalez helped lift the spirits of Houston fans as the team reached postseason for the first time since appearing in the 2005 World Series.

On Thursday, Gonzalez and teammate Jon Singleton were delivering the goods once again. The pair appeared at a Houston Kroger store for the "Fill the Freezer" food drive, an initiative of the Astros and Kroger that benefits the Star of Hope Mission.

Astros in the community

The food drive was a success, with a significant number of turkeys and hams being donated, in addition to canned goods for the homeless and those who are most in need.

Gonzalez and Singleton helped bring patrons into Kroger by signing autographs and memorabilia and interacting with fans, who were thrilled with Houston's 86-76 season in 2015, that included a Wild Card Game win over the Yankees.

"Any time I can help some charity or people who need it, I feel great for that," Gonzalez said. "I think this is a great thing the Astros are doing, helping to give people food. Any time I can help for something, I will."

The Star of Hope, a local agency that benefits homeless men, women and children and has facilities right by Minute Maid Park, serves around 20,000 meals per week. Kroger, headquartered in Cincinnati, operates 216 stores in Texas and Louisiana alone.

"We put together a holiday meal for a homeless person for $2.08, and [the Astros and Kroger] help us make it so that we continue to do that," said Scott Arthur, director of public relations for Star of Hope. "People, because they have a holiday meal, may be houseless, but they don't feel homeless."

"The Star of Hope is a great organization," Singleton said. "I love to do anything to give back to the community. I'm not from here, but any chance I have to help anybody in greater need, I'm all for it.

"Somebody was telling me that there's like three turkeys left in the fridge because everybody's buying them. It's great, I love it. Us being out here definitely encourages people to come out and take part. It's a great cause. Any chance that we have to encourage people to do something out of the ordinary is great."

Among those donating at Kroger on Thursday was Michael Shutika of League City, who dropped off four turkeys.

"My church does something with Star of Hope as well, so it was a name I was familiar with," Shutika said. "And I do enjoy seeing the Astros."

Added Damien Garza of Houston, who also made a donation: "That's what life is all about, giving back. If everybody pitches in a little bit, it makes a big difference. I'm a big fan and my kids are Astros Buddies."

Kroger has been a longtime supporter of the Houston Astros and their foundation.

"What I really love is through the 'Fill the Freezer' drive, we are giving our customers the opportunity to open their hearts and to give to a cause that's bigger than us all," said Kristal Howard, public relations manager of Kroger's Southwest Division. "Through our partnership in the community, we're always looking for ways to enhance our neighbor."

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.