The Browns and Shoes and Clothes for Kids handed out Special Teams Packages at George Washington Carver School to reward school attendance.
As part of the Browns' continued effort to lift spirits throughout the holiday season, the team will begin a "10 Days of Giving" initiative on Saturday through the Browns First and Ten volunteering campaign to make an impact in Northeast Ohio, bring awareness to local community partners and to share stories of generosity to inspire Browns fans to give back to others during the holidays.
From December 5-14, the Browns will announce and highlight special community opportunities that rally the entire organization and Cleveland together to make a difference through the collaboration of executives, coaches, players, staff and Browns fans.
Day 10 (Dec. 14)
Roughly 30 elementary school students from Camp International School who have excelled in areas of education and attendance through the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's "Get 2 School. You Can Make It!" campaign were invited to an ice skating event in downtown Cleveland. They were joined by Browns alums including quarterback Bernie Kosar, running back Kevin Mack and members of the Cleveland police department.
Day 9 (Dec. 13)
In partnership with College Now Greater Cleveland, Browns Give Back offers a scholarship every year to two Greater Cleveland high school students in honor of former Cleveland Browns fullback Marion Motley.
Browns Give Back congratulates Courtney Dunn and Robert Garrett as this year's Cleveland Browns Marion Motley Scholarship recipients. Each of these two deserving students will receive a total of $10,000 to pursue higher education and will be recognized on-field during the Browns vs. Ravens game at FirstEnergy Stadium this upcoming Sunday.
The recipients were selected from over 230 applicants, and it marks the twelfth year Browns Give Back has offered this scholarship. Browns Give Back established the Cleveland Browns Marion Motley Scholarship Fund through a partnership with College Now Greater Cleveland, to provide an opportunity for Northeast Ohio High School Seniors to pursue their dream of getting a college degree while honoring the legacy of Browns Hall of Famer Marion Motley – who broke down barriers in football to create opportunities for others*. *
Day 8 (Dec. 13)
On Day 8 of the Browns' 10 Days of Giving, Browns alumnus WR Andrew Hawkins surprised 200 kids and teachers from Breakthrough Schools' EPrep & Village Prep Willard with a special holiday experience and gifts through his personal generosity during the fourth-annual Hawkins Christmas Takeover at FirstEnergy Stadium. Hawkins and Browns players surprised the students with gifts and more. Hawkins' holiday event is a surprise for the students, who were invited to FirstEnergy Stadium for a pizza party to recognize their work this school year. Papa John's is generously donating pizza for the holiday festivities.
Day 7 (Dec. 11)
During Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns named Bay High School football head coach Ron Rutt the 2017 Browns High School Coach of the Year. Throughout the season, more than 750,000 votes were submitted by Northeast Ohio youth and high school football supporters through the 2017 Browns High School Game of the Week, in association with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
During a special event at Bay High School this afternoon, the Browns also surprised Rutt through the team's "10 Days of Giving" initiative with $25,000 to equip his program with new helmets (approximately 75) through the HELMETS program, a team initiative supported by University Hospitals, Xenith and the Ohio Lottery. For the first time, the $25,000 HELMETS program contribution will be presented to the Browns High School Coach of the Year in addition to the $4,500 of grants Rutt and his school have earned as this year's award recipient ($3,000 to winner, plus $1,500 for each finalist).
Additionally, Rutt will represent the Browns as Cleveland's Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year nominee. As the local honoree, he will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando, courtesy of the NFL and the Browns, and may potentially receive another $15,000 in grants for Bay High School's football program if named the NFL's national honoree.
As part of the Browns High School Game of the Week, all 14 Browns High School Coach of the Year finalists were recognized at the game this past Sunday for their commitment to developing the sport in Northeast Ohio. The Browns also make a $1,500 donation to support each finalist's football team. Since being named head coach in 2014, Rutt has earned a 37-13 record (.740, including postseason) and has reached the playoffs each year while developing a program that finished a combined 10-40 the previous four seasons. In 2017, the Rockets finished 10-0 to post the school's first undefeated regular season since 1954 and advanced to win two playoff games.
The Bay graduate also takes great pride in his team, school and local community and is committed to their immediate and long-term success by creating a family atmosphere. The Browns High School Coach of the Year award is based on a coach's overall body of work during the regular season and postseason after being featured in the Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week, in association with LECOM.
Cleveland completed its eighth consecutive year of the High School Game of the Week this fall. Since the program's inception, nearly eight million votes have been submitted for weekly matchups posted on ClevelandBrowns.com, with fans deciding which game the Browns should highlight each week of the high school football season. Panel members for game selections are Browns senior staff writer Andrew Gribble and Good Karma Brands' ESPN 850 WKNR Jason Gibbs, Matt Fontana and Dave Skoczen.
HELMETS is a collaboration between the Browns, University Hospitals, Xenith and Ohio Lottery in a shared effort to enhance health and safety of young athletes through proper equipment, education and training. The program encourages and incentivizes local high school football programs throughout Northeast Ohio to strengthen their commitment to player health and safety by enrolling coaches in USA Football's Heads Up Football program. All teams registering for HELMETS must be certified or plan to become certified in USA Football's Heads Up football program, with the winner being selected at random from eligible schools. Registration for the next round of the HELMET program is available now through January viawww.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback
Day 6 (Dec. 10)
Before Sunday's game against the Packers, the Browns and local Marines hosted annual Browns Give Back First and Ten Toy Drive, benefitting Toys for Tots, at FirstEnergy Stadium. During the holiday toy drive, presented by Electronic Merchant Systems, Browns fans are encouraged to bring new unwrapped gifts that will be donated to kids in need within Cuyahoga County. Members of the US Marine Corps and Electronic Merchant Systems volunteers will help collect items and monetary contributions at FirstEnergy Stadium gates as fans enter the stadium beginning at 11 a.m. To launch the 2017 Browns Give Back First and Ten Toy Drive, Electronic Merchant Systems is holding a company-wide toy drive prior to Sunday's game and has also pledged $5,000 in an effort to provide a memorable holiday to many children in Northeast Ohio.
Last year, the Browns and fans helped provide more than 15,000 toys to local youth during the holidays through their generous donations. The Browns Give Back First and Ten Toy Drive is also part of Day 6 of the "10 Days of Giving" initiative. On each day of "10 Days of Giving" spanning Dec. 5-14, Browns players, coaches and staff are holding special events and making special contributions to various organizations during the holiday season as part of the team's yearlong commitment to education, youth football and inspiring others through the team's signature First and Ten volunteering movement.
Day 5 (Dec. 9)
Browns vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry and the team's scouting department went bowling with kids from Youth Challenge Saturday afternoon. Youth Challenge brings together young people with physical disabilities and teen volunteers who inspire each other through adapted sports, recreation and social growth activities.
Day 4 (Dec. 8)
Browns owner Dee Haslam visited University Hosptials Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital Friday in support of its Rainbow Radiothon. Haslam generously offered to match any donation of $250 or more, up to $20,000 collected from the event.
Day 3 (Dec. 7)
A local youth flag football team (YYFFA) was surprised with a trip to the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando. The 13-14 year old team will be representing the Cleveland Browns at the NFL Flag Championships during the Pro Bowl.
Day 2 (Dec. 6)
Over the years more than 150 families have been adopted by Browns coaches and players during the holidays through the team's internal Adopt a Family. That tradition continues this season as the program supports The Littles Heroes and The Centers.
Day 1 (Dec. 5)
Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey and offensive lineman Marcus Martin assimilated into a second-grade class at George Washington Carver Elementary School with ease as part of a visit to the school Tuesday afternoon.
They were there to support the "Special Teams Package" clothing program, a partnership with Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to support school attendance by providing school uniforms, daily clothing items and school supplies. In addition to unveiling those packages, Kirksey and Martin read to almost 20 second-grade students, played games and smiled for photos.
"It means a lot to me to be that positive role model to these kids," Kirksey said.
"A lot of people don't realize that when people are missing school and things like that, they may not have clothes to wear, so when you see kids' faces light up when they get a new pair of pants, a new shirt or a simple things like socks, school supplies, toothpaste, toothbrush, that really is just something special to see."
A long-standing partner of the Browns, Shoes and Clothes for Kids is the only non-profit organization in Greater Cleveland that provides new school uniforms, shoes, clothes and school supplies through the year to thousands of children in need at no charge. This past summer, Uniform for Kids (U4K) merged with SC4K, allowing them to include school uniforms into their distribution of basic clothing to partners.
As evidenced Tuesday, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Browns Give Back have collaborated to provide uniforms, clothing, shoes and school supplies to students across the region in support of CMSD's "Get 2 School, You Can Make It!" attendance campaign. Through the "Special Teams Packages" partnership with the Browns, SC4K expects to serve more than 3,000 students by the end of this school year in alignment with the partnership's efforts to help provide resources and eliminate barriers to foster positive learning environments for all students.
"Our goal is to eliminate barriers to kids getting to school," said Tracy Jemison, the board chairman of Shoes and Clothes for Kids. "So what we've done with the partnership with CMSD and the Cleveland Browns is put together a Special Teams Package which, as you just saw, is essentially a week's worth of free school uniforms, socks, underwear, a casual outfit and a shoes gift card so these kids can get to school and not have to worry about what they're going to wear."
CMSD tracks attendance for students who receive a "Special Teams Package" as part of the "Get 2 School, You Can Make It!" campaign to record the impact of new clothing on school attendance. Through its research, CMSD learned students who are chronically absent are linked to lower academic performance and graduation rates and is striving to improve overall attendance through the campaign, along with the support of the Browns and SC4K.
"We know one of the reasons our kids don't come to school is because they don't have adequate clean clothes that are ready for school, and so when we talked to the Browns, they partnered with us and Shoes and Clothes for Kids," CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said.
"We know when we provide this clothing, we increase student attendance for that child between 3 and 24 percent, it has a huge impact for the kids."
Education is a core focus area of Browns Give Back, and the Cleveland Browns Foundation supports this mission through financial grants and other resources to local education non-profits to ensure youth in Northeast Ohio receive the education and development they need as a foundation for independence and success.
Browns Give Back has identified three areas of impact for education – school attendance, early learning and college and career readiness – with the goal of identifying opportunities, removing barriers and providing support for students to empower them for long-term success.
That's why the "Special Teams Package" is such a critical part of that mission.
"We've worked on the program for over a year now," said Renee Harvey, vice president of the Cleveland Browns Foundation, "but to see the physical contents being opened by the students, and to see how substantive the items are and the quality of the items, it was very breathtaking and it was very heart-warming and inspiring to help us hopefully continue to do more."
Joe Thomas headlines Providence House's annual Deck the House Benefit Auction
A longtime supporter of the Providence House, Browns left tackle Joe Thomas headlined the organization's Deck the House Benefit Auction at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Providence House, which has been the Browns' Courage House for Children since 1999, fights to end child abuse and neglect by protecting at-risk children, empowering families in crisis and building safe communities for every child.
"The Providence House is a great organization I've been involved with for a long time here, they do a great job of offering resources to babies and others in certain situations where a mother's been taken away from her baby or vice versa and it provides excellent resources."
The Providence House cares for roughly 400 children from the Greater Cleveland area, is privately funded and, as such, Tuesday night's fundraiser is key in supporting the organization's mission.