The Orioles' presence in Sarasota County goes well beyond baseball and Spring Training, as the organization hosts a variety of baseball and non-baseball events and activities throughout the year. Our year-round philanthropic OriolesREACH initiatives embrace youth activities, charitable causes, and civic priorities.
The Orioles and Sarasota County Schools in 2016 launched the Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge to encourage healthy lifestyles among middle school-aged children in Sarasota County. The program was developed in partnership with Health Fit Powered by Sarasota Memorial, to teach students about the importance of physical fitness, healthy eating, and tobacco-free living. During the six-week program, students in grades six through eight participate in a variety of health and fitness challenges led by Sarasota County Physical Education teachers. Each week, students receive an Orioles-themed prize, and those who complete the entire six-week challenge receive two complimentary tickets to an Orioles Spring Training game and vouchers for complimentary concessions at the "Orioles Fit!" healthy-food stand at Ed Smith Stadium.
The OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic benefits the Miracle League of Manasota, an organization dedicated to providing an opportunity for every person to play baseball, regardless of their ability. The classic, which has raised more than $125,000 since its inception, features a silent auction and the chance to play a round with current and former Orioles players and coaches. For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and their adult counterparts in Sarasota and Manatee counties, a synthetically surfaced baseball field with all the requisite amenities was built in 2012 in Longwood Park, just off University Parkway in Sarasota. Sarasota County committed $500,000 to building the field, with the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates also contributing $150,000.
The All Faiths Food Drive helps people in need in the Sarasota area. Since 2011, almost 4,000 pounds of food and $5,000 in cash donations have been collected at the yearly food drive to help people in need in the Sarasota area. More than 3,500 volunteers and 180 partner agencies and programs in Sarasota and DeSoto counties support the Food Bank's mission.
The Orioles and the Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program team up annually to collect and distribute food to help people in need in the Sarasota area. The Orioles host the charity's Thanksgiving Sorting Day at the Ed Smith Stadium, when volunteers sort tons of donated food collected from around the community. The donated food is distributed through charitable groups, religious institutions and service agencies. The Mayors' Feed the Hungry Program is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that has helped more than 390,000 hungry persons in Sarasota and Manatee counties since 1987.
Each year during Spring Training, the Orioles host a "Green Cap" auction to raise funds to support an environmental cause in the greater Sarasota community. Fans bid online for specially design green Orioles caps, many of which are game-worn by Orioles players on St. Patrick's Day. Organizations that have benefited include Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the Marine Mammal Hospitals of Mote Marine Laboratory.
Each year, the Orioles host free baseball clinics for youth organizations in Sarasota County. Participants receive hitting, pitching, baserunning, and fielding instruction from Orioles Minor League coaches and players. The Oriole Bird enters into the fun, and participants also receive lunch, courtesy of the Orioles. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, the Sarasota Family YMCA, North Port Family YMCA, T-REC Coalition of Sarasota County, Girls Inc., and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast are some of the organizations served.
The Orioles join Sarasota County Libraries each year in the Big League Reader Program to encourage young people to read. Children who sign up at a county library, then read three or more books during February earn a free, reserved grandstand ticket to an Orioles Spring Training game. Hundreds of children participate annually.
The OriolesREACH Gameday Experience Program provides free game attendance and concessions for hundreds of at-risk children and developmentally-challenged adults each Spring Training season.