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Hamels Foundation assists Philly school district

Cole and wife Heidi announce $50,000 in grants for three elementary schools

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Graff, principal of Shawmont Elementary in the Roxborough section of the city, held up a trumpet that had seen its better days Monday morning.

"This is why we are so thankful to Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, his wife, Heidi, and the Hamels Foundation," said Graff, talking to an assembly with his students, the Hamels and school officials present. "We have plenty like this in our stock. They now will be replaced."

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Cole and Heidi stopped at Shawmont Elementary to announce $50,000 in grants for three Philadelphia elementary schools, $30,000 of which will go to Shawmont for new musical instruments, $13,000 (plus $1,600 from PPG Industries), for library upgrades and renovations to FS Edmonds and $7,000 for an art kiln plus supplies for Cook-Wissahickon.

These are economically stressed times for schools in Philadelphia and elsewhere, and one of the goals of the Hamels Foundation, established by Cole and Heidi in 2009, is to bring youngsters facets of the educational process that otherwise might not be available.

"For instance," said Graff, "the grant we received from the Hamels Foundation today will bring us 100 new instruments."

The music will sound a bit sweeter at Shawmont, the library will be more thorough and inviting at FS Edmonds, and the art program bolstered at Cook-Wissahickon.

Since its beginning, the Hamels Foundation has gone global, with a dual purpose of providing quality education and building and maintaining a school in Malawi, one of the most impoverished nations in Africa.

"Heidi was a teacher, and has a Master's in International Education, and my mom was a teacher and dad a school superintendent," said Cole. "After we won the World Series in 2008, before the 2009 season, we really felt part of the city and wanted to help, and decided on education as a cause.

"Given now that we have our own kids [sons, Caleb, 3, and Braxton, who will be 2 in November, and daughter Reeve, a year-old native of Ethiopia adopted last Christmas], it fits perfectly."

Cole and Heidi dedicated their Foundation to enriching the lives of children through the power of education by giving them the tools they need to achieve their goals.

And those "tools" include more than is taught in traditional subjects.

"Extracurricular activities are important," said Cole. "If you just pound the English, Sciences and Social Studies, not everybody grasps it all at the same time. The other activities are needed to help children blossom and feel good about their education.

"What we are doing here is helping the Philadelphia School District provide in areas it might otherwise not be able to do. Without any extracurricular activities available, a child might not have the best future in education."

The idea is to develop students who are proud of their accomplishments and could become future community leaders.

"These are the students who one day may solve a major problem or make a major contribution to his or her community," said Heidi.

To maximize what the Foundation can accomplish, Cole and Heidi work closely with school officials as to needs and processes.

"We've sat in on meetings," said Heidi. "We want to provide a major source for the schools. We ask where we can help, so we can be a help. We aim for sustainability in the programs we assist. That's the key."

Cole explained, in working with the school district, the Foundation makes sure it does things "the right way."

"We go over all the codes and make sure that's the case," he said. "We're partners in this."

As are several Phillies players in the community, part of an organization that does as much in its city as any in Major League Baseball.

"It comes from [Phillies president] Dave [Montgomery, who attended Shawmont Elementary himself]," said Cole. "The goal of the organization is to give back to its fans and the community. We learn that before we become who we are.

"There is life after baseball for all of us, and we want to be role models in the community."

A Shawmont student will certainly think of one of his favorite Phillies pitchers that way when he plays a shiny new trumpet during a music program this fall.

Jed Weisberger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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