MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are used to celebrating on the home field after a win.
But a very different celebration happened off it, Wednesday. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller takes us to a celebratory lunch for hundreds of local students that proved to be more than just a meal.
Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders mascot Champ was a welcome party crasher at this party. “I was laughing,” said South Scranton Intermediate School 8th grader Kiara Ruiz.
She wasn’t alone. More than 200 local middle school and high school special education and life skills students joined in the fun at PNC Field. Ms. Ruiz said, “He gave me a handshake and he was being silly and a fist bump.”
South Scranton Intermediate School Special Education Teacher Maria Rossi chaperoned the students. “They love Champ, they love interacting so. Some of them are a little shy around him. They’re not used to big, furry creatures hanging on them,” said Ms. Rossi.
This is the second annual Thanksgiving student luncheon hosted by the RailRiders charitable arm: the SWB Pinstripes Foundation. The event featuring turkey, veggies and stuffing help fills more than just stomachs. When asked if she thinks it helps fill their hearts a little bit Ms. Rossi said, “Oh, definitely.”
SWB RailRiders Director of Community Relations Jordan Maydole said she looked forward to the luncheon. “It means a lot to us. We want to give back and we want to be able to celebrate a special time of year for all these kids in our community.” The celebration also allowed these girls and boys a chance to make a Thanksgiving-themed craft.
It’s more than just food and arts & crafts on the menu. These students were able to head over to the RailRiders team store. They each received a $25 gift card from the SWB Pinstripes Foundation to buy whatever they want. Pittston Area 6th Grader Kelsey Domoracki picked out a pair of plush lions.
“I got a mommy lion and I got a baby lion,” she said. “I love them because I like lions and lions are my favorite animal.” Taking home mementos and memories to last well beyond the holiday season.
The Thanksgiving luncheon is made possible through donations this past year to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Pinstripes Foundation. A second luncheon will be held December 12th at PNC Field for 200+ elementary and early middle school-aged children.