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Press Release

08/1/2007 4:45 PM ET
Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer and Lew Ford and Minnesota Action Team partner to help at-risk kids at the Metrodome on Aug. 1
Operation Backpack campaign helps disadvantaged kids prepare for school

MINNEAPOLIS -– Minnesota Twins players Joe Mauer and Lew Ford will join high school students from the Minnesota Action Team youth volunteer corps tonight when they host a pre-game event at 5:00 p.m. at the Metrodome to kick-off Operation Backpack 2007. Operation Backpack is an annual back-to-school drive, sponsored by Volunteers of America of Minnesota, that provides new backpacks and school supplies for at-risk children of low-income Twin Cities’ families.

The Action Team youth and players are hosting the event to highlight the importance of education, as well as to help disadvantaged kids in the Twin Cities area prepare for school and approach the beginning of the school year with a greater sense of confidence and hope.

"For most children, the beginning of a new school year means new clothes, new shoes or a new backpack filled with fresh supplies. But thousands of other disadvantaged kids here in the Twin Cities begin the school year without the necessary items most of us take for granted," Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins said. “That's why the Major League Baseball Players Trust has teamed with Volunteers of America of Minnesota for the Operation Backpack campaign."

The Action Team program was created to encourage young people throughout the United States to volunteer in their communities and is administered by Volunteers of America and the Major League Baseball Players Trust. To date, Action Teams have inspired more than 9,000 high school students to help more than 38,000 people in need by volunteering in their communities. Action Teams, consisting of Major League baseball players and area high school student Team Captains, are working together in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Mobile, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC to encourage young people to get involved in their communities by volunteering. An Action Team-related, school-based curriculum developed in partnership with The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition carries the message of volunteerism and teaches valuable community service skills to 700,000 high school students in more than 5,000 classrooms across the United States.

Also tonight, approximately 50 at-risk youth will attend the game courtesy of the Major League Baseball Players Trust’s Buses for Baseball program which provides underprivileged youth the chance to attend a Major League game and meet the players. Mauer and Ford will join other players on the field to present the youth with Operation Backpack school supplies on behalf of the Players Trust.

The Major League Baseball Players Trust, the Minnesota Action Team and Volunteers of America of Minnesota invite the community to join the Operation Backpack 2007 campaign. Here’s how the community can help:

Purchase a new backpack and fill it with fresh, grade-appropriate school supplies.
Purchase and donate prepackaged school supplies on-line.
Make a financial contribution to Operation Backpack for the purchase of backpacks and supplies.
Offer your business location as an Operation Backpack drop-off site.

Backpack donations will be accepted at all eight entrances of the Metrodome during tonight’s event. Additional drop-off locations will accept backpack donations from Aug. 1 though Aug. 24. For a complete list of these drop-off locations, as well as for school-supply lists and more information about the campaign and how individuals, groups and businesses may get involved in Operation Backpack, visit www.OperationBackpackMN.org.