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06/29/09 7:11 PM ET

Burton named Jays' community All-Star

Ontario native encourages children with reading difficulties

After thousands of nominees from across the United States and Canada were narrowed to 90 finalists, Major League Baseball and PEOPLE have announced the 30 winners of the "All-Stars Among Us" campaign, which spotlights people who have gone above and beyond to serve their communities.

The Toronto Blue Jays "All-Star" is Melanie Burton of Belleville, Ontario, who was chosen by fans across the nation for engaging young people around the world in initiatives ranging from increasing access to education to fighting poverty.

Burton, at age 5, helped send thousands of Christmas shoeboxes to war-torn countries. Now she runs Reading Rocks, a program that encourages children with reading difficulties to love reading and improve their literacy. Burton does most of her own fundraising and has helped children read thousands of books.

Burton and the rest of the winners will be honored during the pregame ceremony at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis on July 14 on FOX, at which President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. One club representative also will be featured in People Magazine.

Nearly three quarters of a million votes were cast by fans across the nation in the All-Stars Among Us campaign to select the 30 "All-Stars Among Us" winners -- one per Major League team -- out of the pool of 90 finalists who are serving as leaders within their communities.  

The other finalists for the Blue Jays were:

• Jane Andres: The Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, resident volunteers her time helping migrant farm workers in her area and includes them in her everyday family activities.

• Richard Gosling: The Whitevale, Ontario, resident is the founder and president of Toronto Children's Breakfast Club, which since 1984 has established 30 community breakfast programs that serve a nutritious breakfast to more than 4,000 students a week.

Meanwhile, vote for your favorite players with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 sites.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.