New White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks showed Thursday that he’s not just in Chicago to play ball, but is also here to support the neighborhood.
Firefighters at Engine 29 in Bridgeport received lunch from Hendriks and his wife Kristi. The Chicago Fire Department station is blocks away from Guaranteed Rate Field.
The donation was the couple’s way of showing appreciation for small businesses and essential workers, said White Sox Vice President of Community Relations Christine O’Reilly.
“Thank you Engine 29 for everything you’ve been able to accomplish over the last year,” Liam Hendriks said in a video message presented to about half a dozen firefighters. The couple did not attend the event in person.
“Continuing to help us stay safe, we can’t thank you enough, we’re forever grateful,” Kristi Hendriks added in the video.
The Sox signed Hendriks to a four-year, $54 million contract on Jan. 15. Hendriks, who turns 32 on Feb. 10, was active in the Oakland community with animal rescue and Boys and Girls Clubs efforts while he played for the Athletics and expects to be in Chicago as well.
Working amid the pandemic has been “a little rough” for Engine 29’s Lt. Dan Ruano, who lives in Bridgeport and has been with CFD for 33 years. “Our community and the neighborhoods could definitely use the support, so it’s great to see everybody supporting.”
The couple bought lunch from restaurants Taco E, Ajo and Nana and they plan to continue donating food to the station from the three neighborhood eateries every day until Saturday. The firefighters also got boxes from Garrett Popcorn.
“With this crazy pandemic that's just kind of brought ... the restaurant industry, at least, to its knees, it’s nice when people are kind of able to support business to business or community,” said Omar Solis, owner of the three restaurants, who joined White Sox staffers in passing out the food.
“[My restaurants] are surviving. I mean, it is not the same and it’s a struggle,” he added. “These opportunities are great.”
Thursday’s lunch was just a taste of what’s to come for other frontline essential workers, according to the White Sox. In the coming weeks leading up to the 2021 season, the Hendriks family plans to continue to buy food from small businesses and donate them to first responders and frontline workers, O’Reilly said.
“There’s just so many people on the front lines of helping kids and families face the challenges of the past year, so that’s kind of who they’ve asked us to try to support,” she said.
Contributing: Daryl Van Schouwen