KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Major League Baseball and a charitable foundation run by players announced Wednesday that they are working with Habitat for Humanity to build nine homes for the tornado-ravaged communities of Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., with more than half of the funding coming from State Farm Insurance.
Officials said during a news conference in Kansas City that they want to use the home-building effort to remind fans that the communities still need help. To spotlight the need, crews will work on two of the homes in the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium during baseball’s All-Star game on July 10.
“As media and fans descend upon Kansas City at the ballpark and millions around the world will be watching the game, we hope this exposure will inspire additional support,” said Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs for MLB. “Baseball is a family, and families help others when they are in times of need.”
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Five homes will go to Joplin, where an estimated 7,500 homes were destroyed last May in a tornado that wiped out about one-third of the community and killed 161 people. The other four homes will go to Tuscaloosa, where more than 50 people died last April in a tornado. No construction cost estimates were provided.
Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said her community looked like “a war zone” after the twister and that the only way to view the most damaged areas was on foot.
“We still need you,” she said. “We still need everybody. We need anybody who has chipped in to chip in again because we have a long road to travel. Over a third of our city was just flattened.”
Immediately after last year’s tornadoes, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association contributed $200,000 toward relief efforts.
“The players know the initial attention has subsided but critically the needs haven’t gone away,” said Timothy Slavin, director of business affairs for the MLB Players Association, whose charitable arm, the Players Trust, is one of the partners in the project. “That’s precisely the reason why we are here today.”