Bethesda Big Train and Gaithersburg Giants of the CRCBL
Before the Big Train extended their winning streak to five Saturday night, the players turned their attention to the eighth annual Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League (CRCBL) Feed the Hungry Challenge benefitting Manna Food Center.
“This is a community service that we have here – providing great entertainment for local baseball fans,” Big Train founder Bruce Adams said. “But we want to do more than that.”
Players were scattered to numerous grocery stores around Montgomery County in an effort to see who could collect the most weight in food for Manna. The event pitted the four Montgomery County CRCBL teams, the Big Train, the Gaithersburg Giants, the Rockville Express and the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts.
Gaithersburg took home first prize with 3,670 pounds, while the Big Train placed third with 2,161 pounds of food. Overall 8,800 pounds of food were collected for Manna.
“When it’s Thanksgiving or when it’s the December holidays everybody is out giving food – lots of food drives, Martin Luther King Day – lots of food drives. But not in June,” Adams said. “So we really help restock the shelves out at Manna, it’s really substantively very important.”
Adams started the challenge in 2010 to raise awareness for hunger in Montgomery County. The partnership with Manna grew out of Adam’s work with them through his role with the county government.
According to their website, Manna was founded in 1983 in an effort to create a centralized food bank in Montgomery County. The center currently doles out more than 16,000 pounds of food per day and services 40,058 people.
“That’s what it’s about when you’re at a non-profit,” Manager Sal Colangelo said. “It’s about giving back. We want to do a couple things a year so these guys understand what life is and realize it’s not all perfect.”
The challenge also provided an opportunity for new teammates to bond with each other off the field, have some fun and help the community in the process.
“I’m a very social person so I really like talking to people so even when people would just ignore me I still had fun with it and just kind of laughed,” pitcher Stephen Schoch (UMBC) said.
Outfielder Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) echoed similar sentiments.
“We’ve got a new team coming in so it’s nice to get to know a few guys before we come out here and play and give back to the community,” Esposito said.
The event was capped off when a representative from Manna threw out the first pitch Saturday night at the Big Train vs. Giants contest and allowed the players to see and learn about what their efforts went towards.
“They’re taking us into their homes, doing what they can for us so we might as well help their area as well,” Schoch said.