Markakis, wife full of holiday spirit all year long
Their own foundation on hold, couple involved in assisting local charities
BALTIMORE -- One night in early August, a very pregnant Christina Markakis -- about a month shy of giving birth to her third son with her husband, Nick -- settled in to watch the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation featured on ABC's "The Secret Millionaire" show.
What came on with it left Christina in tears, as the show featured another lesser-known non-profit: the Rose Street Community Center.
"It absolutely touched me," Christina said of the grass-roots efforts, which serves more than 2,000 children ages 13-17 and homeless women in the East Baltimore area. "I wanted to help them."
The following day, Christina cleaned out the closets in their Monkton, Md., home and gave Rose Street a call. The Markakises, who founded the recently frozen The Right Side Foundation, typically worked with the OriolesREACH program to take a family in need Christmas shopping. But Rose Street provided a different idea: one gift for each child.
"They said, 'We don't like our people here to be greedy, and, not to negate what we were doing before, but we were able to touch move lives,'" Christina said of the center, which was co-founded in 1992 by Clayton Guyton -- "Mr. C" -- who serves as executive director. "It's just something different we are doing this year."
While the Markakises have opted to temporarily halt their foundation, a result of having three young children and wanting to be able to do charitable work on their own time, they've remained big supporters of the community. In addition to their efforts with Rose Street, that included around 40 holiday gifts and a slew of winter coats -- along with partner Under Armour -- the couple again donated gloves and balls to this year's OriolesReach Holiday Party.
"Nick doesn't like to do things based on accolades, he likes to do it because he wants to do it," Christina said of the lower-profile nature of their charity effort. "That's the point of the season, it's a giving time and to give back to the community that got Nick to where he is, it's our turn to say, 'Thank you.' This community is such a wonderful community. But not only that, but to help kids, it makes your heart happy."
The Markakises remain involved with Casey Cares, which helps critically ill children, and would love to get The Right Side back up and running someday to help further their efforts which have slowed down only in publicity. Late this summer, as part of Christina's baby shower request, guests donated books that also went to the shelter. It was an early Christmas gift for Rose Street, whose residents were treated to an in-person visit from the Markakises and the Orioles mascot as they delivered the holiday gifts, one from each child's Santa list.
"We are 100 percent still as involved if not more than [with the foundation]; we are able to still work with the same groups," Christina said. "We are just able to be more intimate."
The Markakis family will stay home for the holidays, with Christina continuing her grandmother's tradition of making biscuits and gravy on Christmas morning and Nick already taking their elder two sons goose hunting. They visited her family in Florida recently and welcomed his side the weekend before the holiday, but want to make sure they set aside time for their own family and holiday traditions.
"It's about family, that's what it really is," Christina said of the holiday's meaning. "Being with your loved ones and sharing love."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.