Maddon, Cubs gear up for annual Caravan

Manager will prepare, serve Italian dinner at Chicago Help Initiative

Maddon, Cubs gear up for annual Caravan

CHICAGO -- Cubs fans know Joe Maddon can manage, but can he cook? Maddon will open the Cubs Caravan by shopping, preparing and serving a traditional home-cooked Italian dinner to homeless community members at the Chicago Help Initiative on Wednesday.

Cubs players and coaches will serve alongside Maddon to help raise awareness about Chicago's homeless population. The dinner is an extension of Maddon's "Thanksmas" dinner, which he hosts in his hometown of Hazleton, Pa. The National League Manager of the Year, who is a partner with Italian restaurant Ava in Tampa, Fla., will get started Monday by shopping for ingredients.

On Thursday, the Cubs Caravan will visit patients at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., plus talk to students at three elementary schools, then serve lunch to 200 military service personnel and veterans at the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base in partnership with the USO of Illinois.

The Cubs Caravan members will wrap up the day Thursday by helping paint wall murals, build class room cubicles and pack healthy snacks at Jahn Elementary School in Chicago.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will host his second "Laugh Off for Cancer" fundraiser Thursday night. The event is sold out.

Rizzo, NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Travis Wood, Carl Edwards Jr., Jeimer Candelario, Dan Vogelbach, Pierce Johnson, Rex Brothers and Edgar Olmos are expected to attend the Caravan events along with Maddon and members of his coaching staff.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.