Sports teams pitch in for Sandy recovery


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

Photos courtesy of Major League Soccer
Photos courtesy of Major League Soccer

Volunteers with Major League Soccer pitched in to remove hundreds of bags of debris from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Normally, loyal fans support teams in the best and, most especially, the worst times.

Now it is the teams that are giving their support as thousands still suffer in the wake in Sandy.

“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to you,” said Jets quarterback Tim Tebow in a message to fans. “Whatever we can do for you, we will be behind you as the Jets nation.”

As an effort to pitch in and help with recovery efforts, sport leagues and organizations have donated both time and money to help the area.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has pledged $400,000 toward the cause: $300,000 toward needed supplies, including flashlights and other needs; and a $100,000 cash donation which will go toward the Mayor’s Fund.

Many Queens residents have seasonal jobs at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and USTA president and board chair Jon Vegosen said the organization wanted to give back to one of the places it calls home.

“New York is the US Open’s home, and we want to aid in the rapid recovery of the city, as well as help as many people as we can directly in our home borough of Queens,” he said.

Major League Soccer (MLS) members have also given their time to help clean up some of the parks in the borough. The league contacted the Parks Department, a spokesperson said, and asked what it could do to help. On Saturday, November 3, a group of volunteers set out and removed hundreds of bags of debris from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The following day they took hundreds more from the area around the Olmstead Center. The league is currently looking to make a deal with the city for a soccer stadium in the park.

“We were heartbroken to see the devastation that Sandy wrought in the tri-state area, which is where our league and many of our athletes and employees call home,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber, a Queens native. “We and our teams are proud to be donating money to relief funds and clean up efforts. We were happy to work with the Parks Department to clean up Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and will continue to offer our help to the local community.”

MLS will also donate $250,000 to the American Red Cross, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, and the Mayor’s Fund.

The New York Jets, who played at Shea Stadium from 1964 to 1987, pledged on Thursday, November 8 half a million dollars to recovery efforts.

The New York Giants, who share New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium with the Jets, announced days earlier that they would donate half a million to relief efforts. Giants quarterback Eli Manning visited Staten Island with the American Red Cross to help in recovery efforts, according to the Giants. Manning and his brother Peyton led relief efforts in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck their home town of New Orleans.

Both the Mets and Yankees gave $500,000 each to help those who have suffered losses.