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01/30/09 5:51 PM EST

Rollins makes special visit to YMCA

Phillies All-Star honorary chairman of Strong Kids campaign

Giving back and education were the hot topics of the day at the Christian Street YMCA.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is the honorary chairman of the YMCA's Strong Kids campaign, visited the center on Thursday afternoon. As he taped a promotional piece for the YMCA and participated in a 30-minute panel interview with Sen. Anthony Williams and Pete Hoskins of the YMCA, the themes became very clear.

"I am blessed," Rollins said. "I have so much. And I believe that the best thing I can do to show my thanks is to give back."

The Strong Kids campaign raises money to provide a safe haven for kids and quality YMCA family programs for those who would normally not be able to afford such a luxury.

Rollins' involvement with the YMCA is not completely coincidental. He has a soft spot for the center, as his parents, Gigi and James, met at a YMCA.

Rollins credits his parents with much of his success.

"My mom and dad stayed on me," he said. "I wasn't allowed to go outside or play Nintendo until my homework was finished. And I couldn't just say I did it. I had to show them. And not until they looked it over and it was OK was I allowed to go out. The discipline and education I gained as a result is still with me today. It is unfortunate that many kids these days don't have that family support that I did, and that's where the Y comes in."

In addition to the Strong Kids campaign, Rollins has worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, created the J-Rolls Readers and J-Roll's Aces programs, raised money for the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation through his bowling tournament and recently started the Jimmy Rollins Foundation.

But it's the kids that count. The obvious highlight of the afternoon was when Rollins visited three of the after-school classrooms. Although the kids were absorbed in their activities -- playing with building blocks, drawing fossils or enjoying a snack -- they quickly stopped what they were doing upon his arrival and asked questions, as Rollins joked with them, posed for photos and signed autographs.

Leigh Tobin is director of public relations for the Philadelphia Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.