Thanksmas Sign

Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon hosts annual “Thanksmas” meal at CHI

Jan. 12, 2018 - Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon and his wife Jaye dished out a sensational homemade spaghetti and meatballs dinner to more than 130 guests of The Chicago Help Initiative at our weekly Wednesday meal on Jan. 10.

Coach Maddon’s annual “Thanksmas” meal (which also featured his classic homemade pierogis) was provided through the Maddons’ Respect 90 Foundation, which supports low-income families and people experiencing homelessness in the cities where Maddon has lived and coached: Chicago, Tampa, FL, Mesa, AZ and Maddon’s hometown of Hazleton, PA.

Cubs great Ryne “Ryno” Sandberg — still regarded as one of the best second basemen in Major League baseball history — was on hand to serve guests, along with new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey and other volunteers from the Cubs Charities.

The Cubs mascot, Clark the bear, made a special appearance, too, mingling with guests and posing for pictures. (Lots of pictures! Click on the images in our photo gallery below to view the full photos.)

Not only did our guests enjoy a fantastic meal, they also were provided with amazing parting gifts. Chicago businessman and philanthropist Ron Kaplan was on hand to distribute Citypak backpacks, specially designed for people experiencing homelessness, to each of our guests. Learn more about The Citypak Project.

And Rags of Honor, a Chicago-based apparel company that offers job training and employment opportunities to homeless veterans, provided warm knit caps to each or our guests.

Anywhere Coach Maddon goes, of course, so do the Chicago press corps, with cameramen and reporters from every major local news outlet crowding the dining room and hanging on his every word about the upcoming season.

Coach Maddon and the Cubs last sponsored a meal at The Chicago Help Initiative in early 2016; the team later went on to win the 2016 World Series, the first time since 1908.  

Will they do it again this year? CHI Executive Director Doug Fraser (and every other Chicagoan) is hopeful. As Fraser told a reporter from Comcast Sports News: “We at The Chicago Help Initiative consider ourselves their lucky charm.”

Thank you to the Maddons, Respect 90 Foundation, The Cubs Charities, Citypak, Rags of Honor and all of our supporters and volunteers for your incredible generosity and an exceptional evening of friendship, food and community.

Do you have your own photos from “Thanksmas” at CHI? Please share them with us on our Facebook page!

- Jeanie M. Barnett, The Chicago Help Initiative

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Did you know?

30% of Chicago’s homeless population suffers from mental illness.

A lot of people don’t have shelter, food, clothing. They need help. And they get it here.”