Athletics continue to make an impact

A's continue to make an impact

OAKLAND -- A's fans might want to forget about the club's injury-plagued season, but more than 1,500 charitable organizations in the Bay Area won't soon forget the embrace they received from the club's altruistic arms in 2008.

The Oakland A's Community Fund, long a pillar of charity work in the Bay Area and beyond, provided approximately $650,000 in monetary contributions and donated auction items and tickets this year in their efforts to improve the quality of life for people throughout the Bay Area.

Specifically, the A's sought to fund endeavors to improve educational programs, aid the underprivileged, assist in crime and drug prevention, promote health awareness and champion child and senior welfare.

"It is the mission of the A's Community Fund to support charitable organizations that seek to improve the quality of life for people in the Bay Area," said Detra Paige, the club's director of community relations. "With a special emphasis on the local youth, the combined endeavors of A's players and coaches, together with fans and sponsors, can make a meaningful impact that will last a lifetime."

One of the season's charity highlights came on Sept. 13, when the A's raised $116,750 on Breast Cancer Awareness Day, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and Northern California Cancer Center. Over the past 10 years, the A's Breast Cancer Awareness Day has raised over $1 million for breast-cancer education and research.

Also among the highlights:

• The A's raised over $30,000 at the Ninth Annual MUG Root Beer Float Day on July 30, with proceeds benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since 2003, the A's have raised over $245,000 for the cause.

• On July 26, the A's raised over $100,000 at the Third Annual Dinner on the Diamond, with proceeds benefiting the Oakland A's Community Fund and the Painted Turtle.

• The Oakland A's Community Fund Golf Classic, held on May 22 at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, Calif., raised more than $100,000 for the A's Community Fund through the tournament and silent and live auctions.

• Prior to the season, over 12,488 fans attended the A's annual FanFest, which raised funds for the Oakland A's Community Fund and the fight against childhood obesity.

• The Community Fund held silent auctions of various sports memorabilia on all Saturday and Sunday home dates. The A's Community Fund donated over $70,000 to various charity groups that received a portion of the proceeds as a silent auction partners on selected dates throughout the season.

• The Community Fund contributed $40,000 to the restoration of West Oakland's historic Ernie Raimondi Park. Raimondi Park, one of the five most-used parks in Oakland and the largest park in the area, underwent a year-long, multimillion dollar renovation.

• The Second Annual Dave Stewart/Oakland A's High School Baseball Showdown, hosted by De La Salle High School and the A's Community Fund, took place on April 26 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and raised $37,000 to benefit Oakland inner-city youth programs, including the Oakland Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and the Pick up a Ball, Pick up a Book education program.

• The Ken Korach A's Winning for the Community Program raised $24,000 for the Oakland Athletic League high school baseball programs to fund equipment, uniforms and field maintenance. Funds were raised through donations by A's radio play-by-play announcer Ken Korach and the A's Community Fund for each A's win this season, in addition to fan donations and corporate sponsorship.

• Over 16,000 students in 93 Bay Area schools participated in the A's Home Run Readers program, during the 2007-08 school year.

• The A's designed and distributed over 22,000 Mathletics workbooks, which utilize simple formulas for calculating statistics of A's players to students in hopes to promote the importance of math among Bay Area youth. Since the program's inception in 2003, over 135,000 Bay Area and Northern California students' grades first through eighth have participated. The Mathletics program was sponsored by Ross Dress For Less.

• The A's Amigos program gave Hispanic children the opportunity to speak with an A's player about the importance of education, sportsmanship and hard work.

• Over 10,000 children from low- to moderate-income families were treated to A's games as part of the Little A's program. In addition to a game ticket, each child received an A's pin and pennant. The Little A's program is sponsored by Union Bank of California and supported by Clorox.

The giving didn't stop with the end of the season, either. In November, the club announced its schedule for the 2008 A's Holiday Caravan Tour, which takes place Dec. 3-7 with stops around the Bay Area and features visits to schools, hospitals, shelters, meet-and-greets, luncheons, charity drives and appearances at holiday parades, malls and a fire station.

Scheduled to participate in portions of the caravan are A's owner Lew Wolff, current players Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck, Dana Eveland and Gio Gonzalez, former players Vida Blue and Bert Campaneris and team mascot Stomper.

"The A's organization," Paige said, "is a proud, reliable and dedicated member of its community."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.