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Jersey auctions score with local charities

HUNTSVILLE – The Rocket City Trash Pandas and Huntsville Havoc literally give the shirts off their backs when it comes to local charities.

They may be a tad dirty and sweaty, but the cause is good when it comes to jersey auction fundraisers.

And they are the most popular items for the clubs when it comes to sports memorabilia.

Though the team is only in its third season, Rocket City’s game-worn gear is popular with the fans and the team is glad to oblige – especially when a charity can benefit.

“Jersey auctions are just one of many ways we help bring awareness to great causes in our area,” said Trash Pandas Community Relations Director Maddison Kendrick. “We are excited to continue to positively impact our community.”

(Huntsville Havoc/Contributed)

The Havoc have been in the jersey auction business since their inception in 2004. The special nights are a hit with the fans and team.

“We typically have 10-12 specialty jersey nights with 5-6 going to charity,” said team President Justin Strickland.

The bottom line is the auctions have been successful, to say the least, in raising money for charity.

Star Wars jersey (Rocket City Trash Pandas/Facebook)

In 2022, the Trash Pandas raised more than $100,000 through jersey auctions, benefitting several organizations throughout North Alabama. The Trash Pandas Foundation is the non-profitable arm of the Rocket City organization.

“After the success of jersey auctions in 2022, we are looking forward to doing even more in 2023 to give back to our local community,” Kendrick said.

For each jersey auction, Trash Pandas will wear specialty jerseys for various theme nights at Toyota Field. The autographed, game-worn jerseys will be auctioned online, with the proceeds being split between the Rocket City Trash Pandas Foundation and a local non-profit. Fans do not need to be present at Toyota Field in order to bid in the online jersey auction.

Huntsville Stars jersey (Rocket City Trash Pandas/Facebook)

This year, the Trash Pandas have scheduled five auctions:

  • May 4: Star Wars Jersey – The Miracle League of Madison
  • May 20: Armed Forces Jersey – First Stop
  • June 24: Marvel Defenders of the Diamond Jersey – Madison County Special Olympics
  • Aug. 9: Space Night Jersey – The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation
  • Sept. 8: Huntsville Stars Throwback Jersey – Friends of Rescue Inc.

The Havoc this year raised $225,763, including one game that recorded nearly $60,000.

(Huntsville Havoc/Contributed)

“We set a record for Melissa George Night in total donations – jersey auction, text 2 give, silent stick auctions, mystery pucks, etc., at $83,647 – $58,850 of which was the jersey auction,” Strickland said. “We are at over $2.3 million over our 19-year history.”

Strickland said the jersey auctions benefit charities that have personal ties to players or staff.

“We try and focus on the charities that are close to our organization,” he said.

Those charities are Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund; United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville; St. Jude Children’s Hospital/Huntsville Hospital Women’s and Children’s Center’ Still Serving Veterans; Matt Brown Foundation; and Manna House.

The team’s Light the Lamp Foundation is a vehicle to distribute other funds raised to local charities.

This season’s special jersey nights this season were:

  • Melissa George Night – Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund
  • Star Wars Night – United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville
  • SuperHero Night – St. Jude Children’s Hospital / Huntsville Hospital Women’s and Children’s Center
  • Military Appreciation Night – Still Serving Veterans
  • iHeartHSV Night – Matt Brown Foundation
  • Nickelodeon Night – Manna House
  • Space Night – Light the Lamp Foundation
  • Championship Reunion Weekend – Huntsville Citizens Police Fund (earmarked for Officers Crumby and Morin)

“Nothing makes us more appreciative than seeing the commitment of our fans to support local charities,” Strickland said. “It’s heartwarming to know that our passion for sports can also make a difference in our community.”

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