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09/10/09 4:00 PM ET

White Sox help out South Side schools

Club's Volunteers Corps makes productive use of off-day

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen didn't get much sleep following his team's 4-3, 13-inning victory against the A's late Wednesday night.

Instead, he was up early the next morning for a good cause.

An estimated 475 volunteers gathered at 8:30 a.m. CT in the parking lot at 35th and Shields outside of U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday to participate in a large-scale day-of-service project at Wendell Phillips Academy High School and Ida B. Wells Preparatory Elementary School on Chicago's South Side. The event, hosted by Chicago White Sox Volunteer Corps in partnership with Chicago Cares, brought out the city's fire commissioner, John Brooks, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Guillen, all of whom spoke at the opening ceremony.

Among the projects that volunteers worked on at the school were: creating a baseball field, painting classrooms, painting murals and mosaics in the school, building an entrance with flagstones and general landscaping around the school.

"I think the White Sox, since I was part of this organization, have always tried to bring a lot of good things to the community," Guillen said. "I think we have one of the best cities in the Untied States. Why not be better? It's amazing how people volunteer to make life better. These people can be home, working, walking their dogs, watching TV, doing whatever they want and they take time to help people who need help.

"To me, I feel privileged and I feel I give something back to the community. We're going to continue to do it and I think together, we make anything better. I think that's the reason we come here."

Since its inception in January, more than 3,000 White Sox fans and community-focused Chicagoans have signed up for the White Sox Volunteer Corps.

The first day of service on May 9 saw more than 300 volunteers work to restore two local Boys & Girls Club sites in Chicago. On Thursday, however, that number significantly increased, as people volunteered their time to aid in the beautification of Phillips Academy High School and Wells Preparatory Elementary School, located just blocks from U.S. Cellular Field.

White Sox players Alexei Ramirez, Randy Williams, Daniel Hudson and Bobby Jenks were scheduled to make an appearance at the school, as were coaches Jeff Cox, Juan Nieves and Don Cooper and former players Bill Melton, Moose Skowron, Minnie Minoso, Carlos May and Ron Kittle.

"It really has the team members, players and former players kind of get their hands dirty along with the volunteers," said Christine O'Reilly, White Sox senior director of community relations, "and I think it's real motivation for the volunteers to know that it's a total, full project, and everybody's on board."

Phillips Academy High School principal Euel Bunton stressed the importance of the White Sox participation in the day's activities.

"It just lets our kids know that they're not forgotten," Bunton said. "That's the key thing. Some of our students have never been to a White Sox game. Even though White Sox Park is in this community, we actually have, believe it or not, students that don't get to go to a game because of other personal challenges that they have in their lives. And to have someone from this great organization come to the school really means a lot to our students.

"There are bigger lessons that I think our students can learn from this," Bunton added. "And that is that there's power in helping your fellow neighbor. No matter what personal challenges you may face as a student, and certainly our students have many of them, I feel that what is being modeled here by these volunteers is that whole spirit of helping others in need. I think that if our students can learn that message, that will in turn empower them to take charge of their lives by being concerned about others."

Participants got a head start on the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, which is set to take place on Friday. The day honors the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by having volunteers help with service projects within their respective communities.

"In many ways, for our community, this is a real big way to kick off what is going to become I think over the years a very visible day of service and remembrance," said Scott Lorenz, executive director of Chicago Cares. "It's a way to honor those that perished and a way to advance the society."

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.