For many families, the unofficial "ringing in" of summer takes place in the comforts of a ballpark, rooting for the home team with cracker jacks in hand.
This past Wednesday, More than 20 members of Congress, as well as near 100 congressional staffers and their families ushered in the start of summer at Nationals Park as part of the fourth annual “Home Runs for Horton’s Kids, ” a philanthropic event that supports youth from Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8.
Tickets to the event included batting on the field, face-painting, a silent auctions of over 40 items, appearances by the spirited Nationals' mascot, Screech, and a sprawling buffet of gourmet bratwursts, grilled chicken breasts, tri-colored pasta salad, and enough desserts to make bikini season downright loathsome- not your average ballpark fare.
But best of all, attendees left with the pride of knowing they helped a child in need. The annual event raises approximately one third of the organization’s yearly program budget with all proceeds going to Horton’s Kids programs, which offers services to nearly 300 children and over 100 families.
Horton's' Kids, which received the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management in 2012 and was voted ‘Best Non-Profit’ by readers of the Washington City Paper, was founded 23 years ago by former Capitol Hill staffer Karin Walser. In its years of operation, Horton's Kids has been providing fundamental services like reading and nutrition programs to children from the Ward 8 community in Anacostia.
However, this event, which gained sponsorship from such big name corporations as Microsoft and The Home Depot, is the highlight of the Horton's Kid's calendar. "It's definitely our most fun and exciting event," said Horton’s Kids Executive Director, Brenda Chamberlain. She also expressed Horton's Kids deep gratitude for their various sponsorships, saying "“The support we have received from Microsoft and The Home Depot is incredible. It’s because of them that we are able to continue enriching the lives of children and their families in Anacostia.”
As the sun began to set on Nationals Park, and every eager child eventually got his turn at bat, the evening drew to a close with a communal sing-a-long of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
And that, I belief, is just the way to welcome in summertime.