Holiday season in full swing with D-backs community events

Holiday season in full swing with D-backs community events

PHOENIX -- The holidays have just begun, but the D-backs' celebration is already in full swing.

The regular season has given way to the offseason. The offseason has yielded to the giving season.

"It's baseball offseason for us, but we are busy all year round," said Debbie Castaldo, the vice president of corporate & community impact for the D-backs. "This is one of our best weeks of the year. We will do Christmas or holiday celebrations for more than 1,000 kids this week."

On Monday, the organization started the week with the sixth annual D-backs Holiday Party at Boys & Girls Club for almost 500 children. The evening featured games, gifts, crafts and food courtesy of Streets of New York. D-backs organist Bobby Freeman was among the many club volunteers, as was new D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and members of his baseball operations department.

"This is a special time of the year and we want to make sure every kid has a good Christmas and a good holiday season," Hazen said. "This is very important. We are all part of the community."

The D-backs remodeled the club in 2011 as part of the All-Star Game festivities, and soon created a holiday party featuring Santa Claus and his workshop. The facility is officially known as the MLB All-Star Arizona Diamondbacks Boys & Girls Club.

"It's amazing to have this for the children," said Lariana Forsythe, the chief development officer & vice president at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. "The generosity is just amazing and the entire evening, not just the presents, is something the kids will never forget. To have this type of experience with the games, the fun, and family time, food and toys is really meaningful. The D-backs organization swoops in and takes care of everything. They throw an amazing party."

The community events continue Tuesday with Homeward Bound Shopping Spree, an event that puts together D-backs employees and more than 30 Homeward Bound children -- ages 13-18 -- to shop for gifts for their family members, school supplies and warm clothing. Each employee will be paired a with teen in Homeward Bound's transitional housing program and given $250 to shop.

On Thursday, D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall will be joined by players, coaches and more than 570 children at the team's 19th annual Winter Classic Holiday Party, presented by University of Phoenix.

During Thursday's event, each child will be treated to numerous D-backs gifts, a meet-a-greet and special Chase Field experiences, such as photos with Santa, petting zoos, crafts and the chance to run the bases. Star Wars characters will also be in attendance.

"For kids that mean the world to us here at our D-backs Boys & Girls Club, this is the best part of the year and we love doing it," Castaldo said. "It's such a part of who we are as the D-backs family and we wish everyone out there, especially these kids, a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.