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Inaugural "WooSox Foundation Holiday Caravan" to Spread Joy Around Central Massachusetts this Week

December 14, 2021

Community Award Winners Josh Ockimey and Rich Gedman to join Smiley Ball, Woofster the WonderDog, and Santa in visits to charities.

Community Award Winners Josh Ockimey and Rich Gedman

to join Smiley Ball, Woofster the WonderDog, and Santa in visits to charities.

WORCESTER, MA – Led by Josh Ockimey and Rich Gedman, two award-winning members of the Worcester Red Sox, the inaugural “WooSox Foundation Holiday Caravan” will visit charities from Leominster to Leicester and from Webster to Worcester this Wednesday through Friday, December 15-17.

Ockimey, the club’s first baseman and first-ever recipient of the WooSox Foundation’s “Heart of the Heart” award for community service, will team up with Gedman, his Hitting Coach, who won the charity’s inaugural eponymous “Geddy” award for his kindness and contributions to the community. Joining them are Mascots Smiley Ball and Woofster the WonderDog, along with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Last week, the WooSox were named Minor League Baseball’s CommUNITY Champion among all 120 teams in the United States and Canada.

The Caravan, funded by generous donors from our community, begins on Wednesday morning just blocks away from Polar Park in the Canal District at St. John’s Food for the Poor, where representatives of the WooSox Foundation will serve breakfast to those in need. Other stops in Worcester include Abby’s House and Why Me & Sherry’s House, which the Caravan will visit on Wednesday, and the Worcester Public Library and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, which will be visited on Friday.

Stretching northward, the Caravan continues to Leominster on Thursday afternoon, with a visit to the Spanish American Center, which focuses on social, educational, and economic support to the Hispanic and Latino communities.

Southward, the troupe will travel to Webster, Mass. on Wednesday afternoon, to bring gifts to the talented students in Our Bright Future’s after-school program, which supports students’ academic needs and pursuits of robotics, arts and crafts, and sports. The charity is based in neighboring Southbridge, Mass.

West of Worcester, early Wednesday evening the excursion visits Leicester, site of the McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys. Partnering with Double Play Sports, home of the Junior WooSox in AAU Baseball, the visitors will bring gifts and play games with the residents of the home team.

Addressing some of the needs at the eastern end of Central Massachusetts, the Caravan will also spend time with foster families from Framingham’s Department of Children and Families in conjunction with the Wonderfund. Care packages comprising toys and books, as well as clothing and toiletries, will be presented. Assembled by Kits for Kids of Marlborough, the gifts provide fun as well as everyday essentials to the children.

“As we head into the holidays, we find joy in bringing joy to some of those in need of a smile,” said WooSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg, who is also president of the club’s foundation. “We are thrilled that one of the stars of WooSox ’21, Josh Ockimey, is returning to his summer home to warm the hearts of children in winter. And we are delighted that our native son and WooSox Hitting Coach, beloved Red Sox Hall of Famer Rich Gedman, will bring gifts and love to these children as well. For each child, it is a moment and a memory that we hope impacts and improves their precious lives.”

Ockimey, 26, hit 15 home runs and knocked in 45 runs in only 98 games for the WooSox in 2021. The lefty slugger, who has been in the Red Sox system all eight years of his professional career, has hit 40 home runs with 102 RBI in 220 games his past two seasons in Triple-A. The Philadelphia native has consistently been among the team leaders in community appearances.

The WooSox Foundation awarded its first “Geddy Award” to the Worcester native for his devotion to baseball, commitment to the community, and kindness to all.

Smiley Ball, born on World Smile Day in 2020, pays tribute to the Smiley Face, invented in Worcester in 1963 by the late advertising executive, Harvey Ball. Woofster the WonderDog, whom Smiley Ball adopted as a rescue dog at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, debuted on National Dog Day in August of 2021.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are longtime fans, having sewn and distributed red socks throughout the world. They are most familiar with the concept of a Polar Park.