Thanksgiving generosity: College team flies player home to Venezeula

As a Thanksgiving gift, Ronny Orta was given a plane ticket to Venezuela by teammates. Across the US, examples of generosity are evident. 

( Butch Comegys/The Times & Tribune via AP)
A packed house of diners and volunteers take part during the 40th annual Friends of the Poor Thanksgiving Community Dinner at the Scranton Cultural Center, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2016, in downtown Scranton, Pa. An estimation of over 1,000 people enjoyed their hot turkey meal with all the trimmings.

When a group of Nova Southeastern University baseball players realized a teammate from Venezuela wouldn't be going home for a three-week holiday break like the rest of the team, they decided to pitch in.

Last week, the South Florida baseball team presented 22-year-old Ronny Orta with a plane ticket that will allow him to return to his hometown of Petare, Venezuela, to spend the holidays with his family.

Orta joined the Nova team earlier this year. As his new roommates Gilberto Torres and Josh Glick learned more about him, they realized they wanted to do something to help. So the team pooled together enough money to buy the airline tickets.

Orta, who thought he might have to give up baseball before arriving at Nova, says he'll never forget their generosity.

Examples of gratitude and generosity at Thanksgiving can be found throughout the country. 

In Natick, Mass., Cindi Elias and family members bought seven frozen turkeys on Tuesday and donated them to the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), according the the Metro West Daily News.  

The SMOC, located in neighboring Framingham, Mass, serves children from low-income families ranging in age from toddlers to students in grade five. It offers both federally-funded Head Start programs and a subsidized program for the children of parents who are working or going to school.  Mrs. Elias, a retired teacher, volunteers at the facility two days a week. 

She was accompanied to the grocery store by her children and grandchildren. “I wanted to teach the value of charity to the children, and benevolence,” Elias told the Metro West Daily News.

In many cities and towns, there are organized Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless or impoverished. In Pasadena, Calif., for example, "Dinner in the Park" has been served for the past 46 years.  This year, some 2,000 meals are expected to be served at Thanksgiving in Central Park, and again on Christmas in the Union Station Adult Center.

“This event is special because it is a moment for people who are experiencing poverty to be treated like royalty. Even if we can only give back to them for one day, it’s an opportunity for them to feel honored and special and to hopefully they can learn about the resources we offer,” Union Station’s Director of Volunteer and Community Programs Stephanie Harris told Pasadena News Now.

The outpouring of support crashed the Union Station Homeless Services' website, as more than 600 people volunteered to help. While the group doesn't need any more helping hands, its still accepting food donations. 

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