By Faith Petrie, Contributing Writer
COMPTON — Despite sweltering temperatures, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Dodger outfielder Mookie Betts and Pull Up Neighbor teamed up Aug. 16 to host a grab-and-go giveaway and the Compton Town Center.
Betts first partnered with Pull Up Neighbor, an organization aimed at providing resources and assistance to underserved communities, in his home state, Tennessee, by paying for groceries and handing out masks and other supplies to needy families. After being traded to the Dodgers in February and then signing a long-term contract that will keep him here for 12 years, Betts brought Pull Up Neighbor to his new home.
“This is my home now,” Betts said during a Zoom call. “L.A. is my home, so I definitely want to make an impact here. Partnering with Pull Up Neighbor, I think they’re doing an amazing thing. I just wanted to be part of a situation like that.”
Volunteer members from Pull Up Neighbor gathered at the Compton Town Center to provide free food, water, hand sanitizer, reusable face masks and Dodger gear to community members.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, the Dodgers’ philanthropic vehicle, focuses on programs that promote health, education and community support. The foundation provided 27,500 meals and more than $28,000 in in-kind donations during the event.
“I think we just wanted to be apart of the event and be in Compton and to be with all those families and support them,” Dodgers Foundation Director of Youth Programs Tiffany Rubin said during a phone call. “We know how hard COVID-19 has hit a lot of families and communities, especially communities of high-need.”
Families were encouraged to drive through the parking lot to receive their items, which were then placed in the trunks of their cars, but supplies were also offered to those without a vehicle. Since April, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation has provided 370,080 meals and more than $1 million in food, water, Dodger products and hygiene essentials to families in the Los Angeles area.
Voter registration was also provided during the event. Betts said he wanted to make voting accessible.
“Everybody needs to get out there and vote, everybody’s opinion matters. Making it easier for people to vote is definitely what I want to do.”
Damian Zamora, the Los Angeles field coordinator for HeadCount, an organization aimed at encouraging voter registration, said that his group came to the event to educate people about how to register and what steps they should take afterward.
“Make sure once you get that ballot in to try to mail it in early because the United States Post Office [may end] up being slow and everything with the funds being delayed to them — we want that ballot to get [in] early,” Zamora said.
Compton resident Kevin Stephens Sr., the owner of Step Your Game Up, a mobile video game truck, attended the event and was supportive of the voter registration booth.
“Things like this where they’re out to get the vote to help our progression as people [are important], because right now we’re struggling as people,” he said. “I’m all for this neighborhood success, getting out and telling people voting is precious right now. It’s just really really something that we have to take upon ourselves to make change because if we don’t, it won’t be a change.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is currently working on restoring and building Gonzales Park in Compton as a part of the Dodgers Dreamfields and Rubin said that the foundation hopes to continue community efforts to support families affected by COVID-19.
“Right now from the Dodgers Foundation side, we’re looking at more ways that we could provide distributions to a lot of our program communities as well, so we’re currently figuring those logistics out but we’d love to keep the distributions going for this year,” Rubin said.