TODAY   |  July 12, 2013

Hope week: Yankees give homeless kids birthday party

As part of the New York Yankees’ fifth annual hope week, the major leaguers gave homeless kids who rarely have a chance to celebrate their birthdays like other children a very special party at Yankee Stadium. TODAY’s Matt Lauer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> brands, the new york yankees fit the bill. for the 5th year in a row they're reaching out to people in need with their hope week initiative. i got a chance on thursday to see hope in action.

>> ground ball. yankees win.

>> for anyone in baseball they're used to the yankees being among the league leaders . but for a special week each year that leadership takes place off the field. for the 5th year in a row, the yankees are sponsoring hope week, recognizing those that give the most precious gift. the gift of time. from a community center opening it's doors to a group of special athletes displaced by super storm sandy. to a bronx native giving a second chance to the animals living in the shadows of the stadium. these are the real life heros the yankee players would like you to be inspired by. today's celebration is about birthdays. everybody has a birthday but for some children, there's rarely a chance to celebrate. these young faces are among the thousands of american children who are homeless. the hick sisters.

>> how are you? are you jasmine?

>> 12-year-old jasmine and 8-year-old faith are at yankee stadium for the first time.

>> how many seat douse think there are here.

>> 1 million .

>> 1 million ? i think there's 50,000 seats.

>> whoa.

>> 50,000.

>> and today is another first. the first time they're getting to celebrate their birthdays this year.

>> surprise. come on in. come on in.

>> a group called birthday wishes sponsors special birthday parties for children living in shelters. today's event is inside the stadium.

>> what does it mean to you that the yankees , incredible baseball team they're taking time-out to help you guys have fun today.

>> it means a lot.

>> the pitches. strike three.

>> it means a lot to players as well like the legendary pitcher rivera.

>> the smile we see on their faces when we interact and have fun with them, like today, it's a moment that they will never forget.

>> this is rivera's 19th and final season with the yanks.

>> is there a sight, is there a sound, is there something about being at a ballpark in a uniform that you're going to miss the most?

>> being on that mound i'm going to miss the most. i will always love the game.

>> love of the game and love of giving back. as we watch 8-year-old faith offer her own candy to one of the greatest pitchers of all time. it's clear hope week isn't about how much you can gather, but how much you can give.

>> so sweet.

>> it was such a nice day at the stadium yesterday. it really was. you could see the players were smiling as much as the kids. that made me feel good.

>> how could you not just fall in love with that little girl . she's so cute.

>> the yankees do such a good job with that every year.

>> as do a lot of teams all around the country.

>> cool.

>> british sensation ed sheeran live in concert . he's already been performing for our crowd.

>> loving it. we'll hear from him after your local news and weather.