Affeldt's giving spirit lasts year-round

Affeldt's giving spirit lasts year-round

Affeldt's giving spirit lasts year-round
SAN FRANCISCO -- To Jeremy Affeldt, Thanksgiving isn't a day. Nor is it a season. It's a year-long commitment.

Thus, spending the holiday distributing free turkeys or ladling gravy at a homeless shelter isn't enough for Affeldt. The Giants left-hander, who has devoted much of his life to helping the less fortunate, is looking beyond Thanksgiving. He has helped organize "Something to Eat," an effort to send 135,000 meals to eastern Kenya in the famine-stricken Horn of Africa.

This is just one of several initiatives for Affeldt, San Francisco's Roberto Clemente Award nominee for each of the last two years. He has fought human trafficking, encouraged volunteerism among high school students and worked with various youth groups.

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Now Affeldt is directing his attention and passion toward "Something to Eat." Approximately 400 students -- members of Generation Alive, the non-profit organization Affeldt founded -- will gather in Redwood City, Calif., on Dec. 3 to package meals for the Kenyans. Affeldt intends to fly in from his home in Spokane, Wash., to assist in the effort. Northern California Urban Development, based in East Palo Alto, will partner with Generation Alive to further the cause.

"As a Major League athlete, I know I'm blessed," Affeldt said recently. "I get that we have more than enough. We have an abundance of money. There's no doubt about it. I don't shy away from that. What can I do? You can't just hoard it. It's so unfulfilling to have it all to yourself."

Affeldt's proud of the volunteers for Generation Alive, a group formed to empower young people through active service. Many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, yet recognize the need to help others.

"It's an awesome sight to see in a world that seems so selfish at times," said Affeldt, 32. "You see kids serving people just out of purely wanting to make a difference."

The difference is evident. Affeldt pointed out that the meals, which are packets of rice, soy and dried vegetables that are meant to be boiled together in water, contain all the nutrients a person needs for one day.

Having been influential in sending thousands of meals to Haiti, Affeldt appreciates the positive feedback he has received.

"We're getting reports from Haiti of kids' fingernails growing back, their hair coming in, their skin not flaking, and their ability to think clearly in school," Affeldt said.

Part of the endeavor's success is the ease with which anybody can contribute. Each meal costs only 25 cents. As Affeldt said, "Do you have a dollar? You just fed four people for a day."

Affeldt has been involved in efforts to build an orphanage and a well in Uganda, a soccer field in Brazil and a basketball court in Thailand. But, in this case, providing the hungry with a bowl of rice soup will suffice. Occasionally, he pointed out, if you construct something for a community that doesn't know how to maintain it, "All you've done is built more trash."

Affeldt understands the notion that handing somebody a meal is just a quick fix. But in this case, that's what the Kenyan children need most. Unless the youths have food, "they won't live past tomorrow," Affeldt said. That's why Something to Eat has packaged 750,000 meals for starving children in Haiti and Central Africa since 2009.

"This is a fight every day for people to deal with," Affeldt said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.