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Joe Maddon brings Thanksmas back to Tampa Bay

By Marc Topkin
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon talks with kids before passing out gifts during his annual Thanksmas diner and gift giveaway at the Bob and Margaret Keelean Sallie House, a Salvation Army shelter, in St. Petersburg Monday afternoon (12/16/13). After the kids ate a spaghetti diner they were treated to cake and then each given a gift - a pair of new gym shoes.

Though he has been managing the Cubs in Chicago the past three seasons, Joe Maddon and his wife, Jaye, still call Tampa home. And the former Rays manager is bringing back his Thanksmas program to serve meals at bay area homeless shelters next week.

Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation announced plans to visit Salvation Army centers in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Tampa’s Trinity Cafe and Pinellas Hope.

Besides serving Maddon’s traditional holiday meal, the foundation, in partnership with nonprofit CITYPAK, will provide custom-designed High Sierra backpacks and Under Armour socks to the shelters.

As Rays manager, Maddon hosted Thanksmas events throughout the area from 2006 through 2013, and he said after leaving for the Cubs following the 2014 season that he planned to reinstate the program. The foundation is based in Tampa.

Players from area high school teams — Steinbrenner, Jesuit, Northside Christian and Northeast — will be serving the meals.

Respect 90 also will donate backpacks to the Volunteers of America in St. Petersburg and the Homeless Empowerment Project in Clearwater, and funds to the St. Petersburg Family Promise program and the Bruce Fyfe Memorial Fund, in honor of his work on behalf of area homeless for 20 years.