While the San Francisco Giants look to repeat as World Series champions this season, another season of baseball is well on its way for a group of Oakland youth.

The Jr. Giants Program, organized by the San Francisco Giants Community Fund, is dedicated to empowering young people to thrive in health, education and in life. The program also uses baseball as the common denominator to bring kids together.

“The mission of this program is to allow underserved kids from communities to participate in activities at no cost,” Armond Gray, the Junior Giants commissioner in Oakland, said. “At the same time, children will learn about nutritional habits, writing, reading, and practice eating healthy.”

Gray looks forward to educating youth interested in participating in the coming season through sports. He said that he enjoys seeing a smile on the faces of underrepresented children, and kids that aren’t able to afford baseball equipment.

“We have the unique opportunity to use sports as a tool to teach kids life experiences,” Gray said. “For some of these individuals, it is lifesaving.”

Servicing more than 20,000 youth across California, Nevada and Oregon, each Junior Giants League is a volunteer-based organization. The official launch of the program in Oakland is June 17.

According to Gray, Oakland’s league is in dire need of more participation from little leaguers.

“We definitely need kids,” Gray said. “Typically, we have about 300 – 500 kids. I would love to see 500 – 700 kids. But this number is more on the high side.”

Every Monday, children will learn the basic fundamentals of baseball. The Oakland league consists of a summer camp that lasts six weeks.

There are two leagues within the program – a T-ball league for toddlers and a T-shirt league for kids between the ages of 8 – 14.

“A lot of our T-ballers are from our summer program,” he said. “Although there is no need for volunteers because all of our coaches are Oakland Parks and Recreation staff, I would really hope to see more kids in the T-ball league.”

In addition to volunteering your children, San Francisco Giants fans and supporters can lend a hand by entering the team’s World Series ring raffle for a chance to win a real World Series ring, and by bringing a new or gently used glove to the team’s June 2 Glove Drive home game.

The proceeds raised by the ring raffle will also benefit the San Francisco Giants Community Fund and support the Oakland league. The minimum purchase for raffle tickets is $10 and the online raffle will conclude on June 9 at 8:59 p.m.

The lucky winner of the raffle will be announced during the broadcast of the San Francisco Giants vs. The Pittsburgh Pirates game on Tuesday, June 11. For more information, visit sfgiants.com/ringraffle.

In exchange for making a $10 donation to the Glove Drive, fans will receive either a commemorative San Francisco Giants vs. The Chicago Cubs pin, or a Brian Wilson Gnome pin.

For more information on signing up for the Jr. Giants League, visit any of the participating Oakland community centers or www.jrgiants.org.


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