Local ALWS baseball fans are accustomed to contributing nonperishable food and hygiene items to the Neal Senior Center on opening day of The American Legion World Series each August.
This year, Atrium Health is sponsoring two more days of food collection for two other local food distribution points. Nonperishable food items collected on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, will be shared with Washington Outreach Ministry Inc. and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.
It has become a tradition for the Cleveland County ALWS Baseball Inc. Executive Committee to honor senior citizens with free admission the first day of the national tournament each year.
For 2022, that day is Thursday, Aug. 11, with four games featuring all eight regional teams, starting at 10 a.m.
Stadium gates will open at 8 a.m. The Neal Senior Center administration will place collection boxes on both sides of the main entrance to Keeter Stadium. The boxes are receptacles for nonperishable food and hygiene items that will be available at the center for needy seniors.
The pantry depends solely on donations.
Adults age 55 and older can receive pantry items up to once a month. The Council on Aging of Cleveland County is the county’s leading agency on aging.
In addition to the pantry, the staff at the Neal Senior Center provides blood pressure screenings, exercise classes and other social interaction and support. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates in July 2021, more than 19,000 residents of Cleveland County are 65 and older.
“We have a consistent crowd of seniors who attend the games and support the series in various way, including as volunteers,” says Eddie Holbrook, chairman of the local ALWS committee. “The free admission on our longest day, and the chance to help our seniors facing food shortages are simple ways we can assist people who are very important to us.
“We have heard uplifting stories of the work by Washington Outreach Ministry Inc. and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. They are suppling food to over 15,000 individuals monthly. We applaud their assistance to the hungry in our community.”
The ALWS committee is honoring health care personnel by offering free admission for all 15 games of the 2022 series. In addition to the food collection, Atrium Health is sponsoring Health Care Heroes Day on Sunday.
Miss North Carolina USA Morgan Romano and Miss Volunteer America Alexa Knutzen will sign autographs in the Atrium Health Hospitality Tent and give autograph seekers an Atrium Health challenge coin.
“We cannot thank all health care workers personally for standing in the gap during the pandemic, but we can acknowledge that we owe them a debt of gratitude for their service,” says Holbrook.
The 2022 ALWS is scheduled for Aug. 11-16. General admission tickets are available online or at the ALWS office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Aug. 10. For more information about the games and tickets, visit americanlegionworldseries.com or call 704-466-3103 weekdays.