NEW YORK -- The Yankees got back into the community in late June to meet with some of their most deserving fans, marking the fourth straight year that they've held their signature HOPE Week. The team and its players recognized five local groups, and did their best to shine a light on the causes they represent.
HOPE Week -- which stands for Helping Others Persevere and Excel -- was introduced in 2009, and the Yankees received the President's Volunteer Service Award in both 2010 and 2011. That tradition continued this season, and the Yankees highlighted several local charitable foundations.
The week of events began on June 25, when Jennifer Steinbrenner and a few of the team's players visited the Riverdale Equestrian Center in support of Flying Manes, an organization that uses horse-riding instruction to help people with physical and emotional disabilities.
Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and Mark Teixeira were on hand to assist in helping a class of eight children through their class. Chavez, whose wife trains horses, marveled at the courage and dedication shown by the children, who in turn were thrilled to meet some of their biggest sports heroes.
"I own horses and I'm afraid to get up on them, so the courage they have to just jump right up, I have respect for that," said Chavez of his experience with Flying Manes. "They have no fear."
The next day, the spotlight shone on An Angel In Queens, a charity started by Jorge Munoz that is dedicated to feeding hungry New Yorkers. Four players -- Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Boone Logan and Hiroki Kuroda -- pitched in to help Munoz, who devotes his time to helping others.
The Yankees surprised the 48-year-old Munoz with a check for $10,000, and he was thrilled to meet the media and to have the assistance of four Yankees to help out in his mission.
"For the Major Leaguers to be here is a great honor," Munoz said. "They know what we are doing here, and they know this is for helping people in need. This is for homeless people who have to choose whether to pay for rent or pay for food, so they line up for food."
Munoz cooks for as many as 120 people a day, a number that impressed the Yankees in attendance. Munoz was also a special guest of the Yankees at the game that night, but Granderson said that he knew that the man would be right back on the job feeding hungry people the next day.
"There's no way I could cook for more than five people, and he's able to cook for multiple amounts of people," Granderson said. "Groups of people are lined up waiting for him to come every night. Even tonight, he's going to be rushing out after the game to hurry back and get people fed."
Young Andy Fass was the team's focus on June 27, when the Yankees drew attention to the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation. Fass, just five years old, is legally blind and suffers from oculocutaneous albinism, and he was New York's guest of honor for the day.
Fass got to meet with the players and was feted at Yankee Stadium, and a traveling delegation of dignitaries -- which included Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia -- went with him to The MLB Fan Cave for a postgame party and private tee-ball session. Jeter, like his peers, was touched by the event.
"He's got a lot of energy, man," Jeter said of his day spent with the Fass family. "It's been a lot of fun for us. This is a fun week for the whole organization -- players, coaches and ownership. We started this about four years ago, and we all enjoy it. It's something we look forward to."
Three players -- Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, David Robertson -- spent June 28 lauding the GlamourGals, a group of high school and college-age volunteers who devote their time to giving manicures and makeovers and spending time with the elderly at senior homes.
Swisher and company went with a local chapter of the GlamourGals to the East Haven Nursing Home, and the Yankees gave a check for $10,000 to the GlamourGals organization.
The final day of Hope Week -- June 29 -- was dedicated to the Children Alopecia Project, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to boosting and maintaining the self-esteem of children with alopecia.
Several current and former Yankees -- a group that included Alex Rodriguez, Joe Girardi, David Wells and Daryl Strawberry -- went to the New York Botanical Garden to spend time with some youngsters and raise awareness of a condition that often flies well under the radar.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.