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Seattle sports teams are pitching in to help the beleaguered residents of communities devastated by last month's deadly Washington mudslides — not only by donating and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also by giving the region's children a rare reason to smile.
The Seattle Mariners baseball team announced Wednesday that it was joining Major League Baseball and the players union in donating $225,000 for disaster relief and recovery through the American Red Cross.
"The scope of this tragedy is almost too big to comprehend," said Howard Lincoln, the team's chief executive. "Our entire community is grieving for those whose lives have been affected by the mudslide."
On Monday, six members of the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks and six members of Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer visited the scene to play some pickup games with local children, many of whom they met with in a gathering closed to the media.
"I just know the community is affected," Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, the Most Valuable Player of the team's Super Bowl victory, told NBC station KING of Seattle. "You can see it on their faces."
Sounders midfielder Aaron Kovar said he was "just thankful they let us come and help out as much as we can."
"I thinks it's cool, just seeing these kids so excited," Kovar said. It's a pretty awesome opportunity."
Karen Barkholz — whose husband, Thomas, is president of the board of the North Counties Family Services, a regional agency coordinating relief efforts — said the kids' broad smiles proved the visit meant a lot.
"We haven't seen those all week," Barkholz said. "There's been no reason to smile. We haven't had a reason to smile."
The visit came just a day after Sounders supporters raised more than $32,000 for Red Cross disaster relief efforts at their game Sunday.
Volunteers for the Red Cross will also be at the Mariners' home opener next Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels to collect donations.
— M. Alex Johnson