Rangers send donated goods, cash to West

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Boxes filled with everything from cases of bottled water to diapers to canned goods lined the center field entryway at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday morning.

Texas Rangers employees, players' wives and former outfielder Kevin Mench loaded a truck with fans' donations to help the relief efforts in West, the town of 2,800 about 70 miles south of Fort Worth that is in recovery mode after last week's explosion at a fertilizer plant.

The Rangers said the donations filled two large meeting rooms. They also received thousands in gift cards and $40,000 in cash from fans, employees and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation to aid the victims.

For Mench, the explosion hit close to home. His wife, Shana, is from the area and still has family there. She is the sister of big-leaguer Scott Podsednik, arguably the town's most famous son.

"It's a close-knit community, everybody knows everybody down there," Mench said. "If anybody has driven through there, they've stopped at The Czech Stop for kolaches. Bush's Chicken is there and the Pizza House and everything else. ... It's its own little community, but at the same time it's a big part of Texas itself."

Mench said his in-laws were not directly affected by the explosion, but certainly felt it, comparing it to a "plane crash."

"They felt the blast," he said. "You know how God works, I think they were downtown 20 minutes before that and the plant isn't too far from downtown. It's kind of scary to think about that, but at the same time they were safe enough to get out. Everybody there has rallied around and is helping the community get back on its feet."

The explosion, which happened April 17 at West Fertilizer Co., killed 15 people and injured more than 200 and destroyed dozens of houses, an apartment complex and nursing home.

Jordan Gentry, wife of Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry, was one of three Rangers wives, along with Brittany Ross, wife of reliever Robbie Ross, and JoAnne Moore, wife of bench coach Jackie Moore, on hand to help load the truck that departed for the West Fairgrounds around noon.

"I think it's a part of the players' jobs because people look up to them and they're always in the spotlight, so they need to set an example," Jordan Gentry said. "I'm just here to support Craig and help however I can. If we don't help each other in times such as this, who will? It's important and it's something I grew up doing in my church."

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