Twins continue to reach out to communities in 2016

Twins continue to reach out to communities in 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Giving back to the community has always been one of the major tenets of the Twins organization. 2016 was no different, highlighted by both the Rod Carew Heart of 29 Campaign and the 25th anniversary of the Twins Community Fund.

With the help of the Twins and the American Heart Association, the Heart of 29 Campaign was established to help raise awareness and funds to prevent heart attacks, like the one Carew suffered while golfing near his home in Southern California on Sept. 20, 2015.

The Twins welcomed the Hall of Famer to Spring Training as a guest instructor in late February, surprising him with the entire organization wearing red Heart of 29 shirts upon his arrival. Minnesota continued to wear red jerseys with a special patch for Carew on Friday night home games throughout the year. Other clubs such as the Angels and Red Sox, as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame, also held events to raise awareness and money for the campaign.

"I think the thing that stands out to me the most is the Heart of 29 Campaign," said Twins director of community relations Bryan Donaldson. "It was a real feather in our cap this year because of what happened with Rod. He came to us and said he wanted to use his story to help other people avoid heart failure and to understand the symptoms. It started as an idea and was turned into a campaign with the American Heart Association."

Outside of the successful Heart of 29 Campaign, much of the club's focus is on the Twins Community Fund, which aims to assist in providing resources for children to play baseball and softball by providing things such as renovated fields, new equipment, grants for coaches and clinics put on by current and former Twins players.

"It was the 25th year of the Twins Community Fund, so we wanted to get the word out about all we've done the last 25 years," Donaldson said. "I think maybe people underestimate the breadth and scope. We've had more than 600 fields renovated in the Upper Midwest. So we were able to raise awareness of the Twins Community Fund, which also raised more funds for more work in the community for youth baseball and softball."

During the season, one of the larger team-wide charity efforts is Hope Week, which was held from June 6-12, with players such as Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, Brian Dozier and Kyle Gibson giving back to the community at local events.

Hope Week Day 3

The front office puts on a similar event called the "Week of Holiday Giving," which begins on Dec. 12, and features different charity events each day.

"Each day, Twins staff and former players will go out into the community and volunteer," Donaldson said. "That's something we've been doing for at least the last eight years."

Hope Week Day 4

While former general manager Terry Ryan was a big part of the club's initiative to give back to the community, Donaldson said that both new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have indicated to management they intend to be a part of the organization's charity efforts once they settle into the Twin Cities area.

"They've expressed an interest to Dave St. Peter and others that they want to be involved in the community," Donaldson said. "I think Derek and Thad are going to be instrumental in continuing our work and encouraging the players to continue their great work."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.