Red Sox take a swing at hunger in Lawrence

FENWAY PARK -- Fighting hunger has a new name, or names, to be exact: Lowell, Pedroia, Ortiz, Papelbon and Beckett.

Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, pitchers Jonathan Papelbon and Josh Beckett and designated hitter David Ortiz have joined forces in order to combat hunger at the Cor Unum Meal Center run by St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence.

At a media availability in Fenway Park August 24 to launch the “Hit for Hunger” tee shirt campaign, several of the players showed off the new shirts, which are sold for $20 both online at and at select Newbury Comics retail stores.

“We hope that these shirts not only help to raise awareness of the problem of hunger, but also raise money in order to help the Cor Unum Meal Center,” said Lowell.

According to Lowell, he first became aware of the poverty in Lawrence through fellow Sox player Sean Casey.

A long-time friend of Father Paul O’Brien who is the pastor of St. Patrick’s and the founder of the meal center, Casey has been a supporter of Cor Unum since its early days. He played for the Red Sox during the 2008 season.

“Casey opened the door for us,” Lowell said. “Once you see the problem, we are only too happy to be able to help.”

The blue and red shirts are available with the name and number of the five players and feature the Hit for Hunger and Labels Are For Jars logos.

According to Father O’Brien, all of the profits from the Hit for Hunger shirts will go to feed the hungry at Cor Unum.

The Cor Unum Meal Center is a not-for-profit facility that provides free meals every day of the year to the hungry in Lawrence. Since the meal center’s opening three years ago, more than 400,000 meals have been served.

“We are very happy that some of the highest profiles in baseball have joined us in fighting hunger,” said Father O’Brien.

In June, Lowell and his wife Bertha presented Father O’Brien with a $25,000 donation to Cor Unum from the Mike Lowell Foundation before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and on Aug. 12 Bertha was one of several Red Sox wives who spent a day volunteering at Cor Unum.

The Hit for Hunger shirts are the latest addition to the Labels Are For Jars line. Other items include the Labels Skull Cap: a black wool cap with the label “hungry” on the front, and the original Labels Are For Jars shirt: a black t-shirt with commonly used labels such as “addict” or “slacker” written on the front.

Each of the shirts is packaged in clear jars with coin slots cut into the top. Buyers are encouraged to collect money in the jars and then send their donations into Labels Are For Jars.

According to Father O’Brien, more than $2 million has been raised for the Cor Unum Meal Center through Labels Are For Jars.