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Decade of Donations: Big Train's 10th Annual Food Drive Donates Nearly Four Tons of Food

By:Alex Xanthakis
Two players and two interns request food donations outside of a Giant in Rockville during the Feed the Hungry Challenge.

Before Saturday night's game against the D.C. Grays, both players and interns for the Bethesda Big Train were taking a different field--that field, of course, was actually a parking lot located outside four different Giant grocery stores across Montgomery County. And no games were being played, either--rather, the interns and players collected donations for the Manna Food Center, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating hunger in Montgomery County.

This marks the tenth year of the Manna Food Center "Feed the Hungry Challenge," which was started in 2010 by Big Train co-founder Bruce Adams. Besides the Big Train, the Gaithersburg Giants and Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts also participated.

And actually, despite Bethesda's best efforts and massive food collection of 2,716 pounds, the Giants donated more. They collected 2,926 pounds, marking the second consecutive year that the Giants led the food drive. The Thunderbolts also collected 2,033 pounds. As a whole, the three teams donated 7,675 pounds of food--and in the entire ten year history of the event, they have donated 60,846 pounds of food. That's over 30 tons of food, which shows the difference a dedicated organization can make.

Being that this is the rare occasion where I, the writer, was actually involved in the event being written about (yes, a real person writes this), I do have an anecdote to share from my experiences. So, for a second I'm going to break the fourth wall and share that.

It was easy to do. And pretty fun too. A group of twenty-year-old (or so) interns and college baseball players stood outside of Giant grocery stores for just a few hours and asked for donations of canned goods, rice, and other nonperishables. Nothing difficult about it.

But the thing is, sometimes easy things do make a big difference. A task doesn't have to be difficult to be meaningful. And having driven donations by car from the grocery carts we stored them in to the drop-off center and seeing the size of the bins that were filled, seeing cars practically dripping with food that would tumble out the moment the door opened--it was a bit breathtaking. There was a lot of food, needless to say--we actually did something, achieved something. But the insane part may have been that even with that much food there are still people out there without the means to eat. And those people aren't worldwide. They're not far away. They're here. It makes you think.

Like Manna Food Center, the Bethesda Big Train is a nonprofit organization, sustained largely by the efforts of volunteers and interns. When the Big Train was created two decades back, the organization's aim (along with the league's) was to bring baseball back to the communities in the areas surrounding DC--of course, that predated the Washington Nationals.

Today, the Big Train continue to give back to the community, not only with their family-friendly environment, but with their work beyond the diamond, like Saturday's food drive.

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