Kids and military heroes. This is why we caravan.

Caravans traditionally are designed to reach out to fans in and around the Houston area, to get people excited about the season and introduce them to a few players who they might see in uniform in the coming months.

But so often, caravan visits engage people who have no idea who these players are, who have never been to a baseball game and don’t have many opportunities to watch them on TV.

Those are the visits that are often the most meaningful, as the Astros traveling party quickly discovered Tuesday evening when they stopped by the Helping Hand Home for Children in Austin. 

Armed with 24 large pizzas and four two-liters of Sprite, the caravaners — Chris Johnson, Clint Barmes, Brett Wallace and Bill Brown – walked into a room filled with enthusiastic kids who, on the outside, looked like your typical four to 13-year-olds: chatty, wide-eyed, curious.

These kids are anything but typical, however. They come from homes where they were severely abused, or neglected, or both. They were taken out of their homes by the court system and in some cases, the parental rights were completely terminated. In other cases, there’s hope for a reunion with a family member, or a foster family.

But for now — months, or sometimes, years — their place of residence is the Helping Hand Home for Children. And on Tuesday, they partied in style, with four choices of pizza not only provided by the Astros, but served by them as well. As far as I could tell, the players didn’t mess up a single order.

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Following dinner, it was playtime. Johnson engaged a bunch of kids in an intense round of Operation, while Wallace went toe-to-toe with a friendly seven-year-old in a game of Jenga. I sat down next to Wallace to watch the game, and the kid looks at Brett, looks at me, and says, “Are you his mother?”

ANYHOO…

We were asked not to take any pictures of the kids, for privacy/safety reasons. So we had to get a little creative:

CJ, playing Operator with the kids:

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Barmes, holding the various forms of origami given to us by one talented kid:

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Another youngster asked if he could take a picture with my camera, and as it turns out, it’s one of the few I could use for this blog:

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More presents from the kids:

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Earlier in the day, we visited Camp Mabry personnel at the Texas Military Forces Museum. The Astros had a meet and greet with Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard and Army and Marine Reserves:

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7 Comments

I appreciate what the Astros do for the community. It’s easy to root for the home town team especially when they do so much……….

Alyson………we lead such sheltered lives. We all KNOW
about the children you were with, but we look the other way. As a mother and a grandmother, I see my children
and grandchildren so successful, and smart, well educated
and most of all loved. Stories like this, just breaks my heart.
I volunteer at one of the grade school here in Kingwood,
to listen to the kids that are struggling to read. They are
sooooo different, than the ones you saw today. My prayers
will be, for only good things to happen to those kids, and
a REALLY GOOD thing was…….they got to meet some pretty
good people from the Houston Astros. Thank you for giving
us new perspective. Fondly, Becky:) :) :)

Ha ha, kids say the DARNDST things, don’t they… don’t worry, you don’t look that old!

You don’t look old at all, Alyson, but Wallace sure does look young! I didn’t recognize him initially in the first picture, I thought perhaps it was one of the older residents of the facility.

If I miss it, happy landmark birthday this year!

And this, my dear Alyson, is why you must blog. What a sweet post. Breaks my heart to read of the facility of children you mention here, but wonderful that it exists for those children. Wonderful too that our Astros guys could bring some sunshine into their days.

And always great to see our military given a treat as well.

Thanks Alyson!
#1 Stros fan in Little Rock, Ar

It is nice to see that CJ looks genuinely happy hanging around with these kids. I know that these assignments are usually given to the rookies and new guys, but I’m glad that Wallace, Barmes, and CJ take it seriously.

Love your blog!! I read it all the time!

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