Football and Thanksgiving go hand in hand in this country. But for the last several years, teams and athletes across all the major US sports leagues have given families in cities nationwide something to celebrate and be thankful for… even more than just a W on the playing field.
Power Plays around the NHL
Since 1992, the Penguins have hosted annual food drives to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as part of the team’s Score Against Hunger initiative. This past Thursday, the Pens visited Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District to hand out turkeys, vegetables and other complements to local families in need, bringing an early happy Thanksgiving to several members of their community.
Last season, New York Rangers alumni and staff partnered with Life Center; a Lower East Side shelter; to provide a special Thanksgiving dinner for 350 children and families who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
MLB Pitches In
This year, the LA Dodgers went above and beyond. Now in its 9th year, the Dodgers annual Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway tripled the number of meals it provided, giving over 2,000 local families the makings of a perfect Thanksgiving meal.
Slam Dunks across the NBA
Today marked the 15th year of the Utah Jazz We Care – We Share Thanksgiving dinner, where players, coaches, executives and employees, helped serve more than 3,600 homeless and low-income guests a warm meal. Along with a generous early Thanksgiving dinner, the Jazz also distributed winter clothing items and set up a play area and activities for the children.
David and Lesley West of the Indiana Pacers sponsored this year’s Come to Our House Thanksgiving dinner held at the Pacers’ home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. More than 650 men, women and children from central Indiana shelters enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal shared with the Pacers family in the event’s 16th year.
Former NFL Player Takes it to the House
For the last 16 years, former Falcon Warrick Dunn has given families in multiple US cities the gift of homeownership. Homes for the Holidays was founded 1997 under the umbrella of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers community initiatives during Warrick’s first year in the NFL. The program has expanded tremendously since its inception, awarding its 129th home to a New Jersey family this month.
When people talk about the power of sport, they’re really describing a potential to use a game– any game– to capture the hearts and minds of people and make a difference in their lives. There’s no limit on what that difference can be. The sports community has had a tremendous impact on fans and families nationwide, from lifting spirits with simple acts of kindness to putting the seemingly unattainable within reach, and giving us all a reason to be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!