Athletes Emphasize Charitable Giving

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Washington Post reports that Washington, DC sports teams and athletes are increasingly focusing on charitable giving.

Staff writer Susan Kinzie says, “For reasons idealistic, self-serving or practical, athletes and teams are putting a greater emphasis on donating money, volunteering and helping local communities — with more commitment to providing real impact rather than just photo ops.”

As a DC resident, it’s nice to hear that my teams are giving back. Between the baseball, hockey, basketball and football teams, DC athletes are helping revitalize local neighborhoods, investing in cancer prevention, fighting hunger, supporting children’s education programs and addressing a load of other issues. With the unique voice and wide supporter base that comes with the territory, athletes have a great platform to get the message out on deserving causes and make lasting, positive impacts on communities and individuals.

I’ll admit though, sometimes I’m skeptical when I hear about big names pushing a cause. I wonder, do they really care about or have a genuine commitment to this issue they’re attaching themselves to? For me, sincerity is important.

What’s your take on athletes being active in philanthropy? Do you have a favorite athlete who’s an outspoken advocate for a charity or a cause? Does a sports/charity partnership make you more likely to support the members involved?

Felix Jones spends time coaching kids at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa, OK.
Felix Jones spends time coaching kids at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa, OK.

Since becoming a Salvation Army employee, I’m happy to say my skepticism has tempered after seeing athletes and teams from around the country give and serve generously through our organization in ways that have invaluably inspired and assisted those in need. Their collaboration with us has ranged from extended partnerships to isolated volunteer efforts. Some athletes have never been involved with the Army before, while others have actually been clients in our programs.

Maybe you root for some of the teams and players who have worked with us:

* Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys – He tutors students in ACT prep at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa, OK and has served as a role model in other programs. He’s also pledged $25,000 to the North Mabee Center. Why? He played football at North Mabee as a kid and personally knows what a great impact it has on the local community.

* Robert Meacham, New Orleans Saints – Young aspiring football players received personal tips on playing the game from this Super Bowl Champion during a summer sports camp at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa. Yep, Meacham also grew up playing ball at the center with Jones.

* Julius Erving, NBA Hall of Famer – The b-ball legend is an advocate for exercise and sportsmanship for youth in Atlanta, where he hit the basketball courts as a kid at The Salvation Army. One way he gives back is through his annual “Dr. J” Biddy Ball tournament hosted this year at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, with the help of other players including Cory Blackwell, Vincent Askew and Duane Causwell.

* Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) – These players not only helped establish two mentoring programs through a $25,000 donation to the Omaha Salvation Army Kroc Center, the Nighthawks also serve as mentors themselves! And they’re holding their training camp at the Kroc Center where kids and the community will have the opportunity to see their role models in action.

* Indianapolis Colts – From hosting Christmas toy drives to a $25,000 donation equally shared by The Salvation Army and 4 other non-profits, the Colts are community-focused. On top of that, their Senior VP Tom Zupancic just joined our Advisory Board!

* Philadelphia Eagles – When disaster struck Haiti, the team wanted to help. Eagles guard and Haiti native Max Jean-Gilles, Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan and Eagles employees volunteered to help The Salvation Army and Numana pack nutritious meals for earthquake survivors.

* Dallas Cowboys – For 13, going on 14, years the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game halftime show marks the official launch of our Red Kettle Christmas Campaign. The annual campaign has raised more than $1 billion since the partnership began in 1997 and has helped the Army to serve 30 million people each year nationwide. Plus, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, opened the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Center for Children – a Salvation Army child care center for low-income families in Irving, TX. Mr. Jones is now an Emeritus member of The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board and his daughter and wife are active board members.

The Salvation Army Prepares for Hurricane Earl’s Arrival

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hurricane Earl continues its path towards the US eastern coast with winds reaching 125mph as of this morning, making the storm a Category 3.

All Salvation Army units have been notified of the potential impacts from Hurricane Earl. Personnel in coastal North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Maryland are working with county and state emergency management officials as well as reviewing local response plans and procedures in case their assistance is needed.

We encourage everyone who may be in Earl’s path to prepare an emergency supply kit, make an evacuation plan and stay on top of all storm warnings. For help developing a preparedness plan, coastal residents can visit www.readync.org and www.mema.state.md.us.

Anyone who wants to help those affected by Hurricane Earl can visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Monetary donations will be used to meet immediate needs. We are currently not accepting donations of clothing and furniture for storm victims; however, please continue supporting your local Salvation Army thrift store and the much needed programs your in-kind gifts support.

Stay tune to The Salvation Army’s Hurricane Earl updates as they become available through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

A Taste of New Orleans

Monday, August 30, 2010

This morning I was reading a few articles about President Obama’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The first family traveled to New Orleans where the President addressed Xavier University yesterday.

As the articles discussed the President’s official business in ‘The Big Easy,’ I found it interesting that most of them made it a point to mention the President’s lunch. His speech, visit to a local housing development, and even meetings with hurricane survivors did not overshadow his sumptuous shrimp po’boy.

Why was the seafood sub such a big deal?

A few thoughts:

1.The strength of small businesses gives a fair read on the pulse of the economy, and a mom & pop restaurant sure looks hopeful and healthy when you have the President as a patron. Plus, it’s exciting for locals!

2. Food is comfort, especially during hard times.

3. Identity is often linked to food. What better way to affirm a recovering community than to chow down on a traditional meal that represents what New Orleans is about?

In fact, The Times-Picayune recently ran an article about how Hurricane Katrina affected the New Orleans food culture.

Item #3 on the list: Locals’ Appreciation for Food Deepened.

The article quotes a director of a New Orleans non-profit as saying, “In a very intense, concentrated space of time, people found out what really mattered to them. Food became the most important rituals of our lives.”

Item #8 on the list: New Orleanians began cooking all over the country.

This point was most interesting to me since NPR just ran a segment that featured a displaced New Orleanian. Patrick Wooten and his family were air lifted to shelter when their neighborhood of Algiers flooded during the hurricane. They’ve permanently relocated to Plymouth, MA where Patrick now works as a chef at The Salvation Army. Though the setting is a lot different than New Orleans, Patrick keeps in touch with his Cajun roots by serving up home cooking at The Salvation Army kitchen. What a great way to remember and share his Creole culture!

Lucky for us, Patrick shared with NPR his Dirty Rice recipe that he made on Sunday to remember the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I’m including it below for anyone who’d like a New Orleans culinary lesson:

Recipe: Patrick Wooten’s Dirty Rice (Serves six)

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Andouille sausage
1/2 pound ham steak, cubed
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Uncle Ben’s white rice

Instructions:

o Brown the meat until beef is no longer pink.
o Add Worcestershire sauce.
o Remove meat from pan and saute vegetables in the leftover oil.
o Add cooked rice and more Worcestershire sauce to taste.
o While it cooks down, “sit and wait like a pit bull.”

Stories from the Gulf: Sheriff White’s Testimony

Friday, August 27, 2010

It’s difficult to imagine how hard it must have been for Gulf Coast residents to lose their homes and be displaced for months, sometimes years, after Hurricane Katrina. But to be diagnosed with a terminal disease on top of that? It seems it’d be too much for a person to handle.

In today’s video, Sheriff Bryan White shares the story of his dear friend Frank and how The Salvation Army helped fulfill his dying wish.

Read more in our report “Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years On” about how The Salvation Army has provided relief to the Gulf Coast and helps it to continue to move forward.

In addition, I’m including a few recent headlines about Katrina’s anniversary and the Gulf Coast:

* New York Daily News: Obama Admin Awards $25M in Katrina Funds