NEW YORK -- Mets left fielder Mike Baxter, second baseman Daniel Murphy, starting pitcher Jonathon Niese and Mr. Met attended P.S. 12 in Woodside, N.Y., on Wednesday to show their appreciation for the school's collection of 2,000 pounds of food in last year's "Feed the Kids" food drive, presented by City Harvest.
"P.S. 12 did a great job of raising food cans, with all different kinds of fruits and vegetables," Baxter said. "Awesome opportunity for us to get to come out and meet the kids. They did a great job hosting us. Really, really fun day at P.S. 12."
To celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary, the Mets started a program called "Feeding the Big Apple," which was launched on April 19. The season-long initiative aims to provide hunger relief to those who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Throughout the season, the Mets are partnering with local efforts, such as City Harvest, to help raise awareness for hunger-related issues.
The event on Wednesday was a reward to P.S. 12 for collecting the most food of any New York area school participating in last year's food drive. City Harvest's "Feed the Kids" tries to feed the one-in-four New York City children who may face hunger.
"We're behind it all," Niese said. "We support it. We support that kids do need help that are not as fortunate as everybody else. We understand that, and we're here to help them out."
During Wednesday's event, the students at P.S. 12 performed songs to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and Journey's "Midnight Train" to help spread awareness for child hunger and City Harvest's food drive. Following the assembly, Murphy, Baxter and Niese helped load this year's contributions into a City Harvest truck and then enjoyed a catch on the playground with three students, who were chosen at random. In this year's food drive, P.S. 12 outdid its total from last year, collecting 85 boxes for roughly 3,400 pounds of food.
"It was great," Niese said. "Being here at P.S. 12, they're the champions of bringing in food. Helping the people in the city, and just being a part of the Mets, it's great to help them all out."
Baxter, who is from Whitestone, N.Y., in Queens, was especially proud that the winner of the food drive came from his home borough. He said helping the community he grew up in is a special feeling.
"It's great to see a school from Queens actually win this contest," Baxter said. "City Harvest did a great job of putting it on, making it happen, organizing it and ultimately giving out the food. But to see a bunch of kids from Woodside take pride and to get the chance to meet them, it means a lot to me personally."
This is the fourth year P.S. 12 participated in "Feed the Kids." The school's contributions from this year will be distributed across New York over the course of the summer. Principal Patricia Perry credited the kids for the success of the program within her school.
"This is P.S. 12," Perry said. "When you ask them to do something, they do it 110 percent. We always have the back of the auditorium filled with food."
City Harvest is an ongoing partner with the Mets. Robyn Stein, the director of partnerships with City Harvest, said "Feed the Kids" is City Harvest's most important drive.
On June 15, City Harvest and the Mets will participate in a repack at Citi Field, where the two organizations will partner to package food into family-sized portions that can be distributed to soup kitchens and food shelters across the city.
"I think that 'Feed the Kids' is a great way for people to learn about the fact that one-in-four kids are hungry in New York City," Stein said. "City Harvest is honored to be working with the Mets today, and P.S. 12, in order to raise that kind of visibility."
Fans attending Friday home games can drop off canned or dry food donations at the City Harvest or Island Harvest trucks next to the Shea Home Run Apple in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda as a part of the Mets' Food Drive Fridays.
"We've been given such a great platform in the arena that we're in as professional athletes in this community that you reward people that are doing the right things, the people that are going out of their way to help others," Murphy said. "I think that's what it's all about. It puts in perspective what we do for a living to see a school and a community that just go out of their way and do a little less for themselves so that others get what they need."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.