Angels’ Jared Walsh values positive contributions from volunteering

The holiday season can be a time when more people get involved in volunteering in their communities. For Jared Walsh, giving back has always been something he does year-round – the importance of helping those in need was instilled in him thanks to a story his parents told him and his siblings when they were younger.

The Walsh family hails from a small town outside of Pittsburgh. Many years before the Angels first baseman was born, Walsh’s grandmother saw a homeless man on her porch and instead of telling them to go, she fed them. Confused, Walsh’s father asked Harry, then a little boy coming home from school, why his mother did it.

She replied, “When Jesus comes back, he’ll probably be dressed like this instead of driving a nice car and fancy clothes,” Walsh recalled when told.

“Try to be conscious of how you treat people regardless of who they are,” he continued.

That lesson was critical for Walsh, who was nominated for a Roberto Clemente Award last season for all his volunteer and charitable efforts. Since Walsh was called to the Angels in 2019, he has made multiple visits to children at MemorialCare Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach and Children’s Hospital of Orange County. In 2020, he even joined the team’s Zoom calls to talk and play games with children in hospitals.

“It’s one of those things that he’s just always been,” said Lisa, his mother, of his charitable spirit. “He’s always been like that.”

This spirit stems from his childhood, when he saw for himself that not everyone was as well off as he and his family were.

“We had season tickets to the Steelers,” Walsh said, “so if we went to those games, I’m living a pretty privileged life, and we’d see people who aren’t that much.”

Jared was born in Milwaukee where the family lived after they left Pittsburgh and then moved to Georgia when Jared was about 7 years old. The family would still return to Pittsburgh every football season to watch their favorite team.

Lisa said they would give Jared some money to buy himself a snack at the games. The family would stay at a hotel across the river from Steelers Stadium and walk across the bridge to get there. Along the way, Jared gave all of his money to the various homeless people he saw.

“I remember just feeling a kind of tug of war, like being happy about where I was but also understanding that there’s a lot of despair,” he added.

The more organized projects began with various charitable activities to which his father – who died when Jared was 19 – and his mother signed the family up.

Walsh recalled some of those first charitable endeavors, which involved making sandwiches at soup kitchens in downtown Atlanta.

“I wasn’t a very dynamic chef or anything,” he said jokingly. “Just trying to lend a helping hand.”

Lisa said the family also previously participated in a program where they were matched with another family who needed help and had children the same age. Jared and the rest of his siblings then chose gifts that they thought would please the children of the family they were matched with.

While giving back, Jared also takes the time to connect with those he helps.

“I think it’s really important to really engage with them because it’s more than just doing something, you’re actively engaging with these people,” Lisa said.

Jared is now living in Phoenix with his fiancée Lauren during the off-season. Although his exercise and rehab schedule – Walsh underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in September – takes up a lot of his time, he usually has Wednesdays off.

He said he used a simple Google search for nearby places to volunteer and he will do so on his day off. His fiancée voluntarily accompanies him when she has finished work. He recently found a job as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Food Bank wrapping groceries. He has also volunteered for the local Ronald McDonald House chapter and helped fulfill family wish lists. These lists typically include items such as toys, diapers, pantry groceries, and other household and personal care items for the families that need them.

Jared was introduced to the Ronald McDonald House charities through the Angels, which he says helped show him how many more volunteer opportunities there are.

“Most of the time it was just during the season and I kind of realized I could do something more in the off-season,” he said.

Walsh still volunteers with his mother during the off-seasons in Atlanta. They have previously volunteered for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and during the last offseason they have worked with Hands on Atlanta, boxing up groceries to give to those who need them.

Lisa said that this week while Jared and Lauren are visiting, they’re volunteering at Sheltering Arms — a nonprofit early childhood education center in Atlanta — buying gifts, diapers and wipes for over 50 children.

“It’s a change of perspective,” Jared said. “If the night before I went 0 for 4, three strikeouts, I feel sorry for myself and then I meet someone who is unable to get out of a hospital bed on their own. So it’s just understanding the mental thought patterns I’ve created and how to break out of them a little bit.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-12-23/jared-walsh-angels-community-service Angels’ Jared Walsh values positive contributions from volunteering

Emma Bowman

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