During the COVID-19 pandemic and the election season, Betts and the LADF distribute vital resources and encourage voting in the greater Los Angeles area.
By Amanda Scurlock
Although outfielder Mookie Betts just began playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he is ready to serve communities in Southern California. Betts has partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and community response organization Pull Up Neighbor to host a special Grab-and-Go giveaway in Compton.
While Betts himself could not attend because of Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 restrictions, his family was on hand to give families in Compton free food, reusable masks, hand sanitizers and health screenings. Through this event, Betts is also encouraging the communities in Compton to vote by offering free voting registration.
“We are proud to partner with Mookie and Pull Up Neighbor to serve the Compton community,” said Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the LADF. “As we battle COVID-19 and simultaneously fight for equality, we are grateful to have Mookie on our team tackling the most pressing problems facing Angelenos.”
Betts is ready to accept the Los Angeles area as his new home and felt that Compton is a community that “needs the help the most.”
“Life is bigger than baseball, baseball is just a short period of time,” Betts said. “God blessed me with everything that I have, so I just like to share what I have with everyone else. Making other people happy makes me happy.”
The LADF gave out 27,500 meals and over $28,000 in items as part of their COVID-19 relief effort. Since early April, the foundation has been working with team partners and players to provide 307,080 meals and over $1,000,000 in hygiene products, food, and Dodgers gear to different communities, including areas in South Los Angeles and Inglewood. As part of COVID-19 relief efforts, LADF provided 300 Dodgers RBI families with food boxes, totaling over 16,000 meals, in partnership with Helping Hands Community delivered from Edward Vincent Park in Inglewood.
The Los Angeles Dodgers recently partnered with Lakers star LeBron James to make Dodgers Stadium into a polling site for the 2020 presidential election. Betts wants to encourage people from low-income areas that their vote matters; he wants to make voter registration more accessible.
“It’s an important election year,” he said. “Everybody needs to get out there and vote.”
Betts believe that making voter registration easy will urge people to want to go vote. What he has done on Sunday will be the first of many philanthropy efforts Betts plans on doing in the Los Angeles area.
“I think we got to use one day at a time … but there are going to be many more day to come where I can feel like I can help,” he said. “I’ll do anything I can to help underserved communities.”
The LADF has built 51 Dodgers Dreamfields in the greater Los Angeles area and has provided more than 368,000 youth with access to a safe, playable Dodgers Dreamfield in their neighborhood. To-date, LADF has spent $10.6 million on the Dodgers Dreamfields program. By 2033, LADF plans to complete an additional 24 fields to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles.
In Inglewood there is a Dodgers Dreamfield at Darby Park, and in South Los Angeles there are fields at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, Baldwin Hills Recreation Center, and Jesse Owens Park in South Los Angeles.
In May 2019, LADF hosted a STEM Field Day at Darby Park in partnership with Inglewood Unified School District for 500 students and their teachers trained in their Science of Baseball curriculum which uses baseball as an engaging science textbook. Dodger players Matt Beaty, Will Smith, and Chris Taylor joined students and teachers in interactive lessons.