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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #84
April 01, 2009

It Could Happen

Angels in the Outfield + Baseball and Foster Youth

It's Little League season, and any parent who sits on the sidelines knows that a good ball game is a metaphor for the ups and downs of life. We showed our kids Angels in the Outfield, a feel-good comedy that uses baseball to tell a story about two eleven year-old boys being raised in LA's foster care system. When Roger's deadbeat dad takes off, he flippantly comments that Roger won't have a family "until the Angels win the pennant." Roger takes his Dad's word literally and prays for the last place Angels to improve. While the boys in the film might not have uniforms or coaches like our Little Leaguers, they have plenty of hope. Roger begins to spot angels on the field guiding players to success, and the team miraculously starts to win. Believe us, our team could use a little divine intervention as they head into the playoffs!

Our kids are always up for a day at our local stadium, and grab their gloves in hopes of catching a fly ball. "It could happen, right!?" When our kids were little, baseball games were all about the food; from the hot dogs to frozen lemonades, they ate their way through each inning. Then, our kids became gear-obsessed; they whined for the latest hat or shirt with their favorite player's number. Now, it's the game's mechanics that occupy their interest. After spending many a game cheering on our local team, our kids have become ardent fans and share in our city's enthusiasm for baseball. But do kids in foster care have the same feeling? We contacted a youth foster care organization in our city and learned that a few dollars from our family would help get foster kids to a baseball game this summer. Making "something happen" for children in need is worth cheering about!

Film Title: Angels in the Outfield
Directed By: William Dear
1994, Rated PG, 102 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:
  • Why this Film is Worthy: Angels in the Outfield is a light comedy about a serious problem that faces cities across the country. Children who "age out" of the foster care system become the next generation of homeless people on our streets. This film presents the issues of foster children in a way that kids can swallow.
  • Red Flags: Roger's father gives up on him early in the film, but it's the last we see of that deadbeat dad. There are a few bad words, but nothing offensive.
  • Other Films Worth Viewing: Scores of baseball movies have been made; there is something about the logic and tension of the game that naturally lends itself to great drama. We love Field of Dreams for the whole family, every kid loves Rookie of the Year and the original Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau is hilarious for kids over ten who can handle some bad language (Matthau plays a drunk baseball coach). See our Film Festival for a complete list of suggested titles.

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom for talking with your kids about this film:
  • Financial Savvy: KOTC's financial experts, Eileen and Jon Gallo have this to say about fostering philanthropy in children: "By participating as a family in volunteer and community activities, you help your children develop empathy and a sense of responsibility to others. Your children will realize they have the power to make life better for others."
  • Cinema Savvy: Angels in the Outfield is a remake of a 1951 film of the same name. The film is much darker in tone, but interesting for adults because Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio give uncredited cameos.
  • Superstition Savvy: It's fun to discuss whether or not the angels in the movie are real, or if they're a figment of Roger's passionate belief in the team - after all, he's the only one who can see them. The unpredictability of sporting events inspires all sorts of superstition and ritual in both players and fans. Ask your kids if they have a special ritual they rely on to ensure a good game. Do they wear team colors to cheer on their favorite team or wear lucky cleats to their own game?)  You can extend this conversation by asking how a divine being would decide what team to help!


Take Someone Out to the Ballgame

Support your local Foster Children 

Age Recommendation: Five and up
Time Allotment: 2-3 hours

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Popcorn Adventure:

  • What Worked for Us: Kids who are moved by the film's story about Roger and his Dad can donate dollars to a local foster care organization and they will feel a sense of empowerment in the face of what might be a frightening and upsetting issue. While every foster care organization is run differently, most would be glad to talk with you about how your family can help. All charity organizations are struggling in today's economy, so any donation will be greatly appreciated. And, it's good for kids to understand how to be charitable -- it takes them outside their own circumstances, and establishes a good habit for the future.
  • Aging Out of the System: In the United States today, there are over 500,000 children in foster care as a result of abuse and neglect. Once foster children reach the age of 18, they are no longer protected by the state and often wind up living on the streets. Several quality foster care organizations have evolved around the country to help troubled youth learn independent living skills, but these organizations are in constant need of funding, especially in the current economic climate. 
  • Enjoying a Ball Game: Whether your have season tickets or sit in the bleachers, everyone in the stadium gets into the spirit of the game. The booming announcer's voice, the big screen photos and the parade of food vendors will keep the kids busy. You'll need hats and sunscreen if you are sitting in the sun all afternoon.  When our kids were little, we didn't always stay for the whole game, and often left after the 7th Inning Stretch. Your kids might complain about cutting out early, but avoiding exhaustion will keep the kids eager to come again.

Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA:

  • Boston: The DCF Kids Fund is a nonprofit created in 1998 to serve as a support system for the 30,000 abused and neglected children in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families . Tax-deductible donations provide children in care with clothing, toys, books, and holiday gifts. Contributions may also be used to send foster kids to summer camp, purchase a computer, take music lessons or play youth soccer. For more info, call (617) 748-2368 or download the brochure online.
  • Houston: For over 117 years, The DePelchin Children's Center has been serving the children and families of the Houston area. As the largest private provider of foster care serves, the agency takes care of over 500 children in 350 licensed foster homes.  Many volunteer opportunities are available, including youth centered activities. Check out the website, which lists collection drive opportunities and information on the "holiday project", which enables families to sponsor a needy child or teen and fulfill their wish list.  There are countless ways to get your family involved and feel the true joy that giving to others brings to your heart!
  • San Francisco: First Place for Youth targets services for kids between the ages of 16 and 23 as they transition to life on their own. By helping this vulnerable population with housing, education, health and job support, the organization teaches youth the independent skills that will help them join their community.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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