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Saint Louis Cardinals Help Build Homes for Displaced Families in Joplin

credit: Saint Louis Cardinals

Members of the Saint Louis Cardinals were in Joplin Monday to help build five new homes for families who lost theirs during the May 2011 tornado. The construction is part of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s “Joplin Challenge,” an initiative designed to raise money from professional sports organizations across the state to help rebuild Joplin. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe visited the “Cardinals” neighborhood and has this report. 

[SOUND: hammering]

A 19 inning loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday didn’t dampen the spirits of the Cardinals officials who hammered away in Joplin. Underneath sunny skies, they worked side by side with local construction workers and Habitat for Humanity volunteers to construct wooden frames. One of these frames is the future home of Sharon Brumley.  

Brumley’s life story is a tough one. After losing her sister, she moved to Joplin from Vermont with her two children and nephew. 13 days after the move, the EF-5 tornado hit. Her belongings in storage were destroyed, and the house she was moving into? Well, her landlords moved into it after they lost their own home. Brumley and her kids were left to scrounge for a place to live. Finally, more than a year later, Brumley says she’s ready for some structure in her life – and thanks to the Cardinals, that’s what she’ll get.

“It’s not just like they’re helping us, it’s a long life story. Our home is actually put together by the Cardinals, and the fact that they took time out to come help us is amazing for us,” Brumley said.

One of the volunteers is Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire. He says this is exactly the kind of volunteer work the Cardinals organization is known for.

“They do anything they can to help the community, and what the city went through last year, devastating. I’ve never been here personally, I’ve just seen pictures. You can see how far they’ve come, it’s tremendous,” McGwire said.

The Cardinals have been a part of the Joplin rebuilding process from the beginning. They made a $25,000 donation to Convoy of Hope a day after the tornado hit. During a 2011 Father’s Day weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, the two squads helped raised $200,000 for relief efforts. Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak says the entire organization feels a part of the Joplin community.

“It’s not just the reasons of sport, it’s the reasons for the community involvement. If you think about how much Missouri is so much a part of the fabric of the Saint Louis Cardinals, and to see a town like this go through what they did, anything we can do to help, it might be small, but we certainly feel it’s important,” Mozeliak said.

And the help continues to pour in. This past Friday, the Cardinals’ charity organization Cardinals Care announced a $200,000 donation toward four local agencies that work with Joplin’s children. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.