HAZLETON — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon gave backpacks to people who don’t have a home in his hometown.
On Thursday, Maddon donated backpacks to the city’s homeless shelter overseen by Catholic Social Services.
He presented the backpacks in Hazleton on behalf of his Respect 90 Foundation and CITYPAK of Chicago, as he has done in the two cities where he managed Major League Baseball clubs, Tampa and Chicago.
“They’re really pretty cool, actually. Everyone we presented them to has found a great need for them,” said Maddon.
He pointed out features of the backpacks such as a poncho and a strap that a person can hold while sleeping.
Marijo Penkala, who coordinates volunteers for the shelter on behalf of Catholic Social Services, said the backpacks fill a niche for people who stay at the shelter.
“They need to take everything they need for the day on their backs,” Penkala said.
Fifteen people currently are spending the night in the shelter, and she said holidays often bring in more people. Seven new people arrived at the shelter on Thanksgiving Eve.
For the holidays, Maddon returned to Hazleton to visit his family and support community outreach efforts.
David Axelrod, former political reporter and strategist to President Barack Obama who now is a senior fellow at the University of Chicago, joined Maddon on Thursday.
On Friday, Maddon and former Chicago Bears coach and player, Mike Ditka, will visit with 300 guests during a sold-out gathering at the Valley Country Club. The gathering raises funds for Respect 90, which he and his wife, Jaye, began to benefit charitable projects such as the Hazleton One Community Center, of which he is founder and honorary chairman.
On Sunday, Thanksmas, a meal for those in need that Maddon organizes annually, will be held at the center from noon to 3 p.m.
Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, right, presents backpacks for the homeless to Neil Oberto, director of Catholic Social Services, the agency that oversees the homeless shelter in Hazleton. Maddon donated backpacks that have ponchos and other features to meet needs of the homeless through his Respect 90 Foundation and CITYPAK. (Kent Jackson | Standard-Speaker)
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