Major Leaguers Help Action Team Program Build on Momentum as 2016 School Year Ends on a High Note

Jun 30, 2016 5:00 PM ET
Campaign: Action Team

School may be out, but the impact of Action Team Captains’ work is still being felt by communities across the country.

The Action Team youth volunteer program added 34 schools to its roster this year, bringing the total to 86 participating schools across the United States. Since its creation, the program has served more than 280,000 people inspiring 91,000 high school students to get involved in their communities.

A highlight of the 2015-2016 school year was the program’s launch of Regional Service Projects in which the Action Team youth volunteer “Captains” worked alongside Major Leaguers to perform meaningful community service projects.

The program kicked off in November, when Captains from New England celebrated Veterans Day by building a home for a local veteran and his family. More than 50 Action Team Captains from Maine and Massachusetts joined Major Leaguers and New Englanders Matt Barnes (Red Sox), Chris Iannetta (Mariners) and Ryan O’Rourke (Twins) to assist South East New Hampshire Habitat for Humanity in the construction of a home for the Nickerson family, whose father assisted with Pentagon recovery efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Two months later, Trevor Plouffe, Rob Rasmussen and Chad Smith joined Action Team Captains from El Camino, Newbury Park and Westlake in Southern California to restore a garden at Blue Butterfly Village, a former military base that now serves homeless veterans as well as those who have a history of domestic violence or military sexual trauma.  The group planted vegetables, set up irrigation and hang protective netting in a service project intended to help normalize the lives of troubled veterans and their families.
By working alongside Major Leaguers throughout the day, the Captains from New England and Southern California learned first-hand that you don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference in someone’s life. All it takes is a little time and effort.

The theme was echoed throughout the school year as other captains took initiative in their communities. Rachel Duke, a sophomore from Brunswick, Ohio started an Action Team at her High School this past year and quickly rose to the occasion to get others involved and share in her call to give back. During the holidays, she and her peers visited a local children’s hospital spreading joy and cheer among those who didn’t have the opportunity to be with their friends and families.

Duke was also one of the 20 recipients of the 2016 Action Team Scholarship Program and participated with Captains from across the country during one of our conference calls in April. During that call, Duke shared the story of how she was inspired by her own experience fighting cancer and meeting less fortunate patients.

Matthew Mitnick from Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and his fellow captains held a fundraiser to bring disabled children to a Dodgers Game. Captains raised more than $3,600 by hosting a 5k race at their high school to pay for a bus, tickets, and meal vouchers to transport youth from Casa Pacifica, Many Mansions, and Area Housing to a Dodgers game. Many of the children who attended are from low-income areas and have varying physical and intellectual disabilities.

The 2015-2016 school year brought new life to the Action Team program, with the addition of the Regional Service Projects, the renewal of the scholarship program granting $40, 000 to Action Team Captains toward college tuition and increased involvement of Major Leaguers.

Jon Jay (Padres) assisted Action Team Captains from Cypress Bay High School stocked shelves of the kitchen at Ft. Lauderdale’s Ronald McDonald House and prepared dinner for the families; Gio Gonzalez (Nationals) and Action Team Captains from Bishop Ireton in Virginia hosted a Christmas party for Volunteers of America’s Residential Program Center; José Bautista (Blue Jays) and Captains from George Steinbrenner High School in Tampa, Fla. volunteered at the Metropolitan Ministries of North Tampa, sorting donated food and gifts for the holidays, and Action Team Captains from Manatee School for the Performing Arts and Jim Johnson (Braves) hosted a Christmas party for the Habitat for Humanity families in Palmetto, Fla.

The action rarely stopped for the Players Trust’s Action Team Captains, and we commend each of the more than 400 high school volunteers and their coordinators who are committed to helping those in need and inspiring others to get involved in their communities.

If you’re a high school student who’s not a part of the Action Team (click here for complete list of schools), and would like to #JoinourTeam, be sure to check out our application here. Applications are accepted all year.

Although summer vacation is upon us, please stay in touch for news and information concerning the 2016-2017 school year by bookmarking and visiting and by following us on twitter (@_ActionTeam) and Instagram (_actionteam).