Toys for Kids Annual Gala

A variety of Mariners memorabilia was up for bid at the Toys For Kids auction.

A variety of Mariners memorabilia was up for bid at the Toys For Kids auction.

A sold-out crowd of over 300 supporters gathered on Saturday Night, Nov. 15 at the Bellevue Hyatt in support of Toys for Kids at their annual dinner and auction.

Toys for Kids, founded by longtime Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former Mariners player and broadcaster Dave Henderson in 1995, is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to giving homeless, underserved, and ill children Hope and Joy in the holiday season by making sure each child has a toy to open.

“Thanks to our sponsors, including the Mariners, the RBI Club and the 180 Foundation, among others, and to our dedicated volunteers and auction chair Heather Jones, and all of our great supporters here tonight we will be able to assist over 22 agencies and over 8,000 homeless, underserved and hospital bound children this year with new toys,” Rizzs said following the auction.

“It is really a remarkable outpouring of compassion for kids at the holiday season.”

The spirited crowd included former Mariners players Dave Henderson, Dave Valle, Bill Krueger, Matt Sinatro and others, as well as the Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, President Kevin Mather and General Manager Jack Zduriencik, and a large group of Mariners front office staff. In addition ROOT Sports Brad Adam, who assisted with the silent auction, and a table full of ROOT Sports staff generously participated.

Toys For Kids co-founders Dave Henderson and Rick Rizzs

Toys For Kids co-founders Dave Henderson and Rick Rizzs.

As a part of the dinner program, Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders was presented with the 2014 Al “Moose” Clausen Community Service Award. The award is presented to a member of the Seattle Mariners organization (active or retired) who have made significant contributions to the community.

Since becoming a Mariner, Saunders has been involved with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Major League Baseball’s “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative. Saunders also spends time during the offseason on the Mariners Caravan talking with elementary school students about education and staying drug-free and visiting children at Boys & Girls Clubs. This year, Saunders joined Felix Hernandez and manager Lloyd McClendon as spokesmen for the Refuse To Abuse® anti-domestic violence public service campaign. The campaign is part of the 17-year partnership between the Mariners and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Toys For Kids co-founder Rick Rizzs with outfielder Michael Saunders and ROOT SPORTS Brad Adam.

Toys For Kids co-founder Rick Rizzs with outfielder Michael Saunders and ROOT SPORTS Brad Adam.

Saunders was joined at the event by teammate Charlie Furbush and the two pledged to take the winning bidders of the visit to Spring Training to dinner in Arizona, in addition to happily posing for pictures, signing autographs and generously bidding.

It was a great night, but it is not too late to help. If you are interested, there is more information at http://www.rickstoysforkids.org/

The Toys for Kids motto is as simple as it is powerful:  We make young people smile. We fill them with joy. We give them hope. We show them love.

Special thanks to Rick Takagi Photography for the great photographs.

Moose Clausen with Michael Saunders, winner of this year’s Moose Clausen Award for Community Service, with Bob Simeone and Dorothy Clausen.

Moose Clausen with Michael Saunders, winner of this year’s Moose Clausen Award for Community Service, with Bob Simeone and Dorothy Clausen.

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