By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia Phillies’ lefthander Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, are helping out Philadelphia schools at a time when they need it most.

The Hamels Foundation is giving $200,000 to 17 Philadelphia schools to provide science labs, libraries and sports equipment.

At a time when Philadelphia schools are slashing budgets, Heidi Hamels says, she knows the gifts are appreciated.

“We did our school walkthroughs literally when they were handing out pink slips,” she said. “And you want to talk about just everybody that was around us, they were like, ‘You have no idea. We needed this hope.'”

One gift of $50,000 is going to the Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Northeast Philadelphia to transform the current small, dingy, concrete-floored gym (below) into a fully equipped fitness center.

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school gym before  denardo Phillies Cole Hamels Donates $200,000 For Philadelphia School Improvements

(The "before" image of the gymnasium at the Swenson Arts and Technology High School. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

Cole Hamels hopes it will be an inspiration to the kids.

“That’s the way I was able to express myself, which was through athletics and being outside. So this hopefully will give them that sort of opportunity,” he said.

Swenson’s principal says his students will do much of the renovation work.

Reported by Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio 1060

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