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06/22/10 4:45 PM ET

Couple goes shopping with Shoppach

Backstop lends hand in supermarket spree for Feeding America

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach's experience blocking pitches behind the plate came in handy in an unlikely environment Tuesday morning: the aisles of a local grocery store.

Shoppach visited a Sweetbay Supermarket in St. Petersburg to join Justin Monahan and his wife, Barbara, on a $1,000 shopping spree courtesy of Sweetbay and Pepsi. Pepsi also donated presented a $1,000 check to Pat Rogers, director of Feeding America for Tampa Bay. And during the 20-minute, all-you-can-grab contest, the Rays catcher took control of the cart and reeled in the items the Monahans pulled off the shelves and threw at him.

"They said if I dropped anything, it was going to come out of my pockets, so I caught it all," Shoppach said with a laugh. "I know they were excited, and I was excited to be a part of it. It was a fun experience for me.

"It was great. Pepsi and Sweetbay put this together, not only for this, but for Feeding America. I think that's important to remember here."

The Monahans came fully prepared, each with their own grocery lists ready to go before Rays radio host Rich Herrera kicked off the event. Monahan, 73, won a sweepstakes to take part in the contest, but he and his wife did a fairly equal amount of the shopping -- treating the spree like a big trip to the store, complete with minor disagreements over which brand or size of certain products to choose.

"It was funny," said Shoppach, who pushed the cart and added humorous commentary along the way. "They argued over what they should get and what they should not get -- 'Oh, we don't use that.' That was pretty comical."

Ever the thrifty shoppers, the Monahans even said they were looking at "Sweet Deal" sales, despite being given $1,000 to spend. They wound up only using $383.03 on the day, but they were rewarded with an additional $500 Sweetbay gift card as well.

They didn't end up sticking to their initial strategy of only picking up discounted items, thanks to some prompting from Herrera, who followed along providing "play-by-play" commentary, and Raymond, Tampa Bay's mascot who showed up about halfway through the event and helped bag the couple's groceries.

They also sought after non-perishable items, since they had to take their three shopping carts worth of groceries an hour and a half to their home in Floral City, Fla.

"We tried to get everything that was on a 'Sweet Deal,' but the announcer kept pushing us, so we had to just load the thing," Monahan said. "We've never had a $300 shopping spree in our lives."

Shoppach said the couple's level of preparation, from their search for discounts and their detailed, specific lists, was "so classic" and repeated after the event how refreshing it was to give back to the local community in such a laid-back way.

"Sometimes, when you do community service, it's a very serious thing," Shoppach said. "To have an opportunity to come out and just have a good time, especially with a couple of great people, it was fun."

As part of the prize, Monahan also received two Avantair Home Plate Club tickets and a personalized, authentic Rays jersey, which he wore during the shopping spree. A self-proclaimed die-hard Tampa Bay fan, Monahan expressed his gratitude toward Shoppach and the rest of the Rays.

"I think they're giving the community a tremendous amount. I think they give us more than we give them," he said. "We need to support them. I think they're great for our city, great for the whole community."

Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.