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Blue Jays' charity helps Field of Dreams in Forest

The Toronto Blue Jays went to bat for the Forest Minor Baseball Association and hit a home run.

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The Toronto Blue Jays went to bat for the Forest Minor Baseball Association and hit a home run.

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Jays Care Foundation – the Blue Jays’ charitable arm – has given a $54,800 grant to refurbish the diamond at Coultis Park.

“It’s been a tough year,” Forest Minor Baseball Association president Kevin Goodhand said. “This announcement gives everybody in the community and our players something to really look forward to.”

The 14 organizations to receive $1 million this year from Jays Care Foundation were announced Friday night on Sportsnet before the Blue Jays game.

“It was very exciting to hear our organization included on that list on Sportsnet,” Goodhand said. “I have lots of e-mails from the players and parents.”

Forest Minor Baseball applied with the Municipality of Lambton Shores for the Field of Dreams grant.

The money will be used to tear down the field’s concrete dugouts and replace them with roofed chain-link dugouts for better air flow and accessibility.

The chain-link fences surrounding the field will also be replaced.

Construction will start as soon as possible in order to hopefully be ready for this season, Goodhand said.

“It should help us expand our program and offer more baseball to the kids,” he said. “With this and some other improvements, we’re hoping to get more use out of the diamond.”

The association normally has 100 to 120 players per season.

“Before COVID, we were just house league,” Goodhand said. “We were expanding into the select league and then we got shut down. We’re hoping to get the select league program going. We’ve got some really talented kids in town.

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“Probably not this year but next year. Just because of the short season this year, it’ll be tough to do anything with the select, but next year we will, for sure.”

A girls’ softball program might also be added, he said.

“I’ve had some interest from some girls in the area, so we’ll see if we can expand into that area in the future,” he said.

Jays Care Foundation annually gives more than $1 million through the Field of Dreams program to build, enhance and refurbish spaces for children and youths in Canada.

“After a remarkably difficult year, we hope that (Friday’s) announcement will provide something for families in these communities to celebrate and look forward to,” Jays Care Foundation executive director Robert Witchel said in a statement. “We are pleased to help organizations across the country build exciting, new spaces for children and youth to reconnect once it is safe to do so.”

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