Pittsfield High School baseball team grills burgers, dogs for vets at Soldier On

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Photo Gallery | PHS baseball team holds cookout for veterans at Soldier On

PITTSFIELD — Coming off three wins and hoping to soon earn a Western Massachusetts championship tournament, the Pittsfield High School boys baseball team took a day off in the heat of its season for some key community service.

The boys spent the afternoon, not in practice, but over a grill cooking some extra donated food for roughly 50 veterans at Soldier On in Pittsfield.

Plans for the event came together quickly, the day before.

"We loaded up on the RV and came over," team Captain Simon Nassif, 17, said. "We want to come together and help whenever we can, give back whenever we can."

Roughly 100 veterans of varying ages make their home at the West Housatonic Street Soldier On facility, where the organization offers them training in social skills, transportation services, drug and alcohol recovery services, computer technology, mental health services and affordable living.

Roughly 100 hamburgers and hot dogs and buns, were donated for Friday's event by Mazzeo's, Hot Dog Ranch and Pittsfield Rye, leftovers from the varsity versus alumni game at Wahconah Park this week.

"We were looking for a way to give back some way or other," Coach Seamus Morrison said.

Coach Mike Matthews added, "Rather than having a fundraiser to benefit the team, or eating the food themselves, the team wanted to give back."

"This is much more important than a practice, teaching the kids about giving back," Morrison said. "Some of these kids [on the team] are 18. Some of the guys here [at Soldier On] were out fighting for our country at the same age. It's good for them to realize that and try to understand it. It's a hard thing to comprehend."

Jason Stump, one of the Soldier On chefs, said he always welcomes such events.

"They gave me a call [Thursday] and said, 'Want to do a cookout?' " Stump said. "I said, 'Sure.' Here we are."

The baseball team is faring well this season, with a record of 9-6, and Morrison said he was hoping for a win in their game against Drury High School on Saturday.

"It would be great to be able to clinch [a Western Massachusetts berth] tomorrow; that was our goal at the beginning of the week," he said.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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