WASHINGTON - For many, Thanksgiving Day will bring a day off, a big meal, time with family and some football on TV.
But it's no day to kick back for Washington Nationals infielder Steve Lombardozzi Jr. and his dad.
The Nats star and his father, Steve Lombardozzi Sr., a former MLB athlete and the current baseball coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md., have led a weeklong drive to collect supplies for superstorm Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey.
"Me and my dad are blown away with how much stuff has come in," marvels Steve Jr. as students, mostly members of the Good Counsel baseball team, loaded donations on a tractor-trailer truck at the school for transport to the storm recovery zone.
"Canned goods, water, blankets, sleeping bags, personal care items, household items," says Steve Jr. as he surveyed the collection of boxed goods stacked on the sidewalk along an entire block.
The father-son duo plan to personally deliver the items over the next few days.
"This is going to be the fun part," Steve Sr. says. "...Steve and I are just going to go out anywhere and everywhere."
The Washington Nationals supported the effort and enlisted the help of the team's official mover JK Moving Services, which brought in a bigger truck - at the last minute - to accommodate the abundance of emergency supplies.
Steve Sr., a former second baseman for the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins, was recently hired as Good Counsel's baseball coach and will begin his first season in the spring. The students can't believe their luck to be led by a former big player.
"It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm so excited for the season, just talking to him," says Casey Beulik, of Ashton, Va., a shortstop for the Good Counsel Falcons.
"I'm really mind-blown right now knowing what he's done," exclaims Quoc Tran, of Germantown, a senior outfielder. "He's giving us a professional baseball mindset."
The high school baseball players and their parents were instrumental in collecting and sorting the donations for those still struggling to recover from superstorm Sandy.
"A lot of families were affected, and it's hard to know that it could have happened to us, so it's good to give back and to help out," says Tran.
Collecting emergency supplies has been a bonding experience for members of Good Counsel's baseball team and an opportunity for the varsity players to meet the freshmen.
"It's been a blast really getting to know a lot of these guys, and spending time with them is really what it's all about," Beulik says.
The Lombardozzis are eager to get the aid into the hands of those who need it, even it means sacrificing a quiet Thanksgiving Day.
"I'm looking forward to getting up there and being able to go around and meet some of these families," Steve Jr. says.
His dad looked proudly at his son and his new players at Good Counsel as they loaded the truck.
"It's most likely going to be the most fulfilling, rewarding Thanksgiving we've had as a family," he says.
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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