Clearwater’s Monica White and her children, Christian Barnett, 5, and Kadesha Wallace, 9, sit on Kadesha’s new bed as part of the Clearwater Threshers Hope to Dream event on Saturday, June 24.
CLEARWATER – Minor League Baseball is known for its wacky promotions and quirky theme nights, which help draw big crowds and make the games more entertaining for the whole family.
Charitable contributions typically don’t draw the same kind of attention as Star Wars and Military nights, but MiLB prides itself on its affiliations with local and national charities, including the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
On Saturday, June 24, the Clearwater Threshers, the Florida State League affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, held a promotion in conjunction with Ashley HomeStore, for Hope to Dream, which saw 100 children receive free beds, complete with blankets, books, pillows and teddy bears, as part of a nationwide campaign to provide clean, unused mattresses to children in need between the ages of 3 and 16 years old.
“Hope to Dream launched in 2010, and since then, we have donated over 40,000 beds in North America,” Ashley spokesperson Ruthie Bautista said. “The purpose is to provide beds for less fortunate children so they can get a good night’s sleep. Four hundred Ashley Furniture stores have partnered with local charities for this promotion, and we’re thankful to the Threshers and Minor League Baseball, because we believe events like this are very helpful in inspiring people to give back to the community.”
Minor League Baseball official Mary Marandi echoed Bautista’s thoughts.
“MiLB Charities does things like this all over the country with our national and local partners, and when we learned about the Hope to Dream promotion, we thought in trying to be good community partners we would get involved,” said Marandi, MiLB assistant director for corporate communications, before surprising 100 kids with their new beds. “A couple of other MiLB teams have done similar events with local Ashley partners, and that was the inspiration for us giving away 100 beds today.”
The effort that went into presenting the kids, who are selected from applications submitted to the Ashley HomeStore website, with their beds was nothing short of remarkable. More than 100 company employees and dozens of Threshers staff members and officials made sure the children were not only surprised by the donation, but had a fantastic time at the ballpark as well, with free food and drink, a photo op on the field prior to the game, and a fireworks show afterwards.
The overall generosity of the evening was overwhelming for some.
“This is awesome, amazing,” said Clearwater’s Monica White, whose 9-year-old daughter, Kadesha Wallace, received a bed. “I buy from Ashley all the time, and this is perfect. It’s exactly what she needed.”
Amid the Threshers players signing autographed merchandise and people taking photos of their kids on their new beds, 6-year-old Savannah Quarles of St. Pete was joyfully bouncing on her new mattress like the happiest child in the world.
“This was very, very cool, a great event,” Savannah’s mom, Ashley, said. “I told her this is the only time she gets to jump on her bed!”