Our partnership with the Tampa Bay Ray’s was built on the shared belief that no one should go hungry. While their concern and dedication to our cause is grounded in eliminating food insecurity in our area, their efforts intensified in the wake of Irma.
What was set to be a one-night event with Feeding Tampa Bay as the organizational highlight for Rays Up night, turned into a 5-day Irma relief fundraiser.
The weekend kicked off on September 14th with the distribution of Irma relief bags at Tropicana Field. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department, and staff from the Rays and Feeding Tampa Bay loaded client cars with emergency bags of food. The emergency bags included Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE’s), bananas, and water for those in need following the storm.
Rays Up night followed on September 15th with the Rays vs Red Sox game. As part of Rays Up night, the Rays provided a number of tickets to Feeding Tampa Bay to sell. For each ticket sold for the game, the Rays donated 50 meals to the Tampa Bay community. During the game, Feeding Tampa Bay’s Executive Director, Thomas Mantz, was brought on field and presented with a check providing 1 million meals for Irma relief.
In addition to the Rays Up night organizational highlight, the Rays hosted a food and supply drive for the victims of Hurricane Irma. Spectators were asked to bring non-perishable goods, household products, and baby items to help support our neighbors affected by the storm. While usually 700,000 individuals in our community go hungry every day, this number increased after Irma made landfall. Irma downed trees and closed businesses, leaving numerous individuals without power, with spoiled food, and with lost wages. In a commitment to help these individuals, the Rays extended the food and supply drive throughout the weekend. Over 3 days, the donation drive collected 7,660 pounds of food and $735.63 in funds, providing 13,739 meals to the community.
Following the game and the food drive, the Rays spent the day volunteering at Feeding Tampa Bay. The 42 individuals that joined us sorted through and packaged the influx of food from FEMA and from our other major relief donors.
These hunger heroes are there for us throughout the year and stepped up to the plate when times were tough. We’re grateful to team together for the Tampa Bay community.